25 years after Tiananmen – Is China afraid?

Today, (the 4th of July) the Chinese Government has an eye on the Tiananmen Square protests due to the 25th anniversary that has taken place in Beijing in 1989.

China deployed huge security measures in order to prevent any possible commemoration of the Beijing massacre, and recently the Chinese authorities have detained dozens of activist in order to prevent the diffusion of the past historical event that is being celebrated. China has defined the Tiananmen’s protest movement as “counter-revolutionary” to the principles of communist ideas. Several governments, such as the United States, urge China to account for what happened on June 4th, 1989. Even the Nobel Peace Prize winner and exiled Tibetan spiritual leader – the Dalai Lama – puts pressure on Chinese authorities to embrace democracy.

Retrieved from: http://goo.gl/cqJMeA

Illustration – Tank Man. Retrieved from: http://goo.gl/cqJMeA

Everything started with the death of the Chinese dictator Mao Zedong. His successor Deng Xiaoping implanted new and more open policies in terms of worldwide economic relations as well as in national education.

In 1987, the ‘’more liberal’’ official of the communist party Hu Yaobang was ceased by others more extremist members of the party, and he died later by a heart attack on April 8th, 1989. His death generated a big reaction in Chinese society: first, few students were accused of demonstrating illegally against the regime, and almost one month later, more than 200.000 people – especially students – took the streets claiming for more rights and freedoms.

On May 14th, protesters begun with a hunger strike. After a few days of protests in the Square – occupied by mainly students – on the 20th of May, the government declared the martial law, but the military forces were unable to enter the city due to the large numbers of students and citizens. On the 3th of June, the troops received orders to reclaim the Tiananmen Square at all costs. At night, soldiers opened fire on the people that have been occupying the square, causing lots of victims.

Obviously, the major part of the population was terrified with the happening of the massacre in the square, and tanks were a nightmare for all passers-by in the street. In this context, a photo taken by Jeff Widener of the Associated Press, became very famous on an international level. His photo shows an unknown man called the ‘Tank Man’ (see Illustration), who stood fearless and angry in front of a column of tanks.

Nobody knows if this man continues alive, but the consequences of that photo produced a huge pressure, exerted by institutions and foreign governments, towards China in order to promote Human Rights & peace in the region. Therefore, the Chinese government has to face the consequences such as a damaged reputation towards the international community.

After more than a half-century of the Chinese People’s Republic in power, the Human Rights are still a huge pending issue in the region. While most young Chinese are unaware of the Tiananmen event, others suffer repression more strongly with long prison punishments, exile or even executions under completely unfair trials that are all kept silence, favoring the government.

The most recent trials have been convicted activists such as Gu Yimin, Cao Shunli, Chen Wei, Chen Xi and Tan Zuoren who were convicted for publishing poems as well as papers related to the democratic reform in China. Even today, the total number of victims and detainees are still unknown – but these strangleholds do not prevent victims to be remembered worldwide.


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