Tiananmen Square, + 20

Rebecca MacKinnon of Global Voices has been tweeting a number of noteworthy items related to today marking the 20th year since the massacre at Tiananmen Square in China.

Among them: Secretary of State Hilary Clinton's statement, calling for prisoner release. And this article by James Fallows in the Atlantic on the hordes of plainclothes cops in the square today, whose presence is intended to block any photography or video coverage that would remind people of the incident. Also, this piece in the Financial Times, in which a reporter who was there 20 years ago says that Western news misrepresented the protesters and got the narrative wrong.

In related items, do read this New York Times piece about the exiled Tibetan poet Woeser, featured among "China's New Rebels." You may also want to read this earlier profile about the blogger/poet/dissident in the Times (Thanks, Laird).

And one of the principal student leaders in exile flew to China this week, attempting to surrender to the Chinese government in a final act of protest.


  1. Is this where we’ll see the hordes of Tiananmen apologists come out to defend the Chinese gov’t and twist the conversation to be about Kent State or other American misdeeds?

    Give ’em time, they must be busy today.

  2. My understanding is that the incidents we generally think of when we think of “Tianamen Square” are virtually unknown by most Chinese people, and that this is due to a deliberate act of forgetting spearheaded by the government.

    Many witnessed that historical incident, but many now deny it ever occurred.

    Similarly with the Holocaust: many witnessed it, but years later, many deny it ever happened.

    Both these events occurred, and “proving” so to those who deny them is more than difficult: it is _impossible_, because the deniers reject the means of proof. They could easily argue that videos of T Square could have been made via CGI, or filmed on a soundstage or in LA, etc. Documents, photos of the Holocaust could have been doctored or concocted. Personal anecdotes and memories are not accepted as proof.

    I– and most of us here– would furiously reject such reprehensible thinking. We know that proof for historical events exists but that it is of a completely different nature than many other kinds of proof.

    Massacres at Tianamen Square, or the murdering of millions of Jewish people and others during WWII, don’t tend to happen. They are anomalies. But they did happen once.

    Denying that these events happened is a crime against all of our humanness, an insult to all our intelligence, and a smear on all our integrity.

  3. Please sign the Amnesty online petition to ask the Chinese government to reveal the truth about Tiananmen at http://www.protectthehuman.com/tiananmen

    we still don’t know exactly how many people died during the Tiananmen crackdown. Families of the dead and disappeared are not allowed to mourn their love ones in public.

  4. Shen Tong, one of the student protestors, was a guest on BBC World Service’s show “Interview”.


    From the show’s description:
    Shen Tong was one of the young Chinese student leaders in the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.
    In the bloody aftermath he fled to the United States and became an activist in exile.
    Now at the age of 40 he runs a software company in New York and has made a handful of visits back to Beijing.
    So how does he look back on those heady events, twenty years on?


  5. #14:

    No offense but I think China is a little beyond petitions. Under normal circumstances I think petitions are nearly useless but in the face of China’s institutional suppression of human rights I think useless is not a strong enough word. As long as we’re still funneling money to their country by buying their wears they have no reason to change. And I don’t see us voluntarily quelling our wasteful purchases anytime soon.

  6. I’d had a very nice day for my 20th birthday. The next day, I heard that the protesters in Tiananmen Square had been massacred by the Chinese government.

    So, I remember the Tiananmen Square Massacre every year.

    As far as I’m concerned, the Chinese Communist Party is irredeemably corrupt.

  7. Here are the instructions for how to make Tank man Tango, a memorial for Tiananmen Square made of dancing people in cities around the world:
    (also online in Cantonese, German and Mandarin)

    In Sydney the memorial included 70 people dancing for 90 minutes:

    footage of people making the Tiananmen Memorial on 4 June in Brussels:

    Some people making the dancing vigil in Bristol:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i569iMX7cBc&feature=related… Read More

    In Weimar:

    Streaming from Auckland, Hobart, Brisbane, Singapore, Belgrade, Dunkerque, Brussels, and Richmond, Virginia:

    More coming, from many more cities. http://www.forget2forget.net

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