Commemorating Tiananmen Square Massacre 25th Anniversary

Wednesday June 4th, 2014 at 2:59 pm

This is late I know but I didn’t get home until 3 am last night :(

I’m not one to get into politics and I still won’t but this one hits a little bit closer to home…

Yesterday (by China’s date) marked the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

My family and I were still living in Beijing at the time. My dad was a student then so I’m not surprised he was there at one point or another. As far as I know, I was not actually in the square but outside with my mom. I don’t have much more information than that as my parents don’t talk about their history much but I doubt my dad was there for too long. I’m sure he had made plans already to come to the US by then but I wouldn’t be surprised if this even furthered pushed him to do so. While I wish this never happened, the part of me that takes pride in being Chinese is glad to say I was apart of its history. I think I had a little flag to waive too.


This iconic image is of an unknown man standing in front of tanks trying to block their exit on the morning of June 5.

More photos taken by journalists and photographers back in 1989 can be found here.

In 1989, back when China was still going through much political struggle, students assembled in Tiananmen Square on April 15 in Beijing China to mourn the death of former Chinese Communist Party leader and liberal reformer Hu Yaobang. This quickly led to a wave of pro-democracy demonstrations with thousands of students occupying the square. The peaceful protests eventually led to a hunger strike among the students in mid-May. Students were hoping to use the hunger strike as a bargaining chip, knowing that the welcome ceremony of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev would be held in the square. As a result, the hunger strike gained sympathy for the students among the people of China and also inspired events at other universities across the country. At the height of the protests, as many as one million people occupied the square.

Political leaders at the time were rushed to find a way to stop the students, fearing civil war and another cultural revolution. Their attempts in making the students leave the square so far had no results. On May 20, Prime Minister Li Peng declared martial law and hundreds of thousands of troops were moved into the capital. Tens of thousands of protesters surrounded military vehicles, preventing them from either entering or leaving the city. Protesters even tried talking with the soldiers in hopes they would join their cause. At a standstill, the military was forced to withdraw.

On June 2, leaders met again to decide what to do. They agreed that the square must be cleared as peacefully as possible but if the students did not cooperate, force would be used. Warnings were given to the protestors but as the situation did not change and thousands of people still attempting to block the military from entering, violence soon started. The government later tried to justify the violence of the military by saying it was in defense.

The night of June 3 to the morning of June 4 was a tragedy. Troops started to open fire on protestors with machine guns and assault rifles. Tanks were also moved in to clear the square. Residents responded by attacking soldiers with sticks, rocks, molotov cocktails, and setting fire to military vehicles. Unfortunately, due to lack of information, the exact number of casualties is unknown but it’s estimated it could be as high a thousand with thousands more injured. Over a thousand protesters were also arrested following the incident.

The saddest part of this tragedy is that the event has been wiped off of history in China. The government denies it ever happened and even today, many people aren’t aware of what happened on June 4, 1989. Any talks or activities related to June 4 is banned in China. The event is also one reason why so many social media outlets are blocked in China. The government will do anything to hide the truth from its people, even going as far as searching the internet for blog/internet articles related to the event and either removing or blocking them.


Hong Kong is the only place in China where the tragedy is commemorated. Thousands gather at Victoria Park every year to participate in a candlelight vigil. This year marked a record of over 180,000 attendees.

China has come a long way since 1989 but it still has a much longer way to go. Those in power will do anything to keep it and knowledge is a form of power. I have no idea where China will be in the next 25 years but I hope the message that people sent through their actions and the sacrifice they made on June 4 live through the hearts of the people today.

Posted Under: China
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