Tiananmen Square Massacre commemoration thread

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Tiananmen Square Massacre commemoration thread

Unread postby Lady Wu » Wed May 30, 2007 11:56 pm

On June 4th, 1989, the Chinese Communist Party mobilised military force to crackdown a weeks-long peaceful protest in Beijing for greater democracy, transparency in government, and freedom of the press. By conservative estimates some hundreds of protesters---mostly students and low-income workers---died.

The CCP then spent the next 18 years trying to cover up the incident. Any mention of the incident is strictly taboo on the Mainland (it's censored off the web just like "democracy", "Tibet independence", "Falun Gong", etc.). Those who speak up or show sympathy to the movement are purged, jailed, disappeared. Family members of protest participants back then are still under surveillance. Security is heightened around Tiananmen Square (and elsewhere) around the time of the anniversary.

A generation has grown up knowing little about the event. I urge everyone here who isn't familiar with the event to look it up (internet sources abound, except if you're trying to search from within China). In Hong Kong, where some vestige of free speech remains, a vigil is held every year. But the number of attendees dwindle by the year.

The CCP's strategy of denial and waiting for people to forget is working.

Even as of last week (or two weeks ago?), the leader of the pro-Beijing political party in Hong Kong claimed that "there was no massacre", and called Hong Kong teachers "irresponsible" for telling students that the Tiananmen incident was a massacre, without sufficient evidence. "Don't just listen to the relatives of the dead protesters, and don't just listen to foreign media reports. You should also consider the official reports."

Of course, Hong Kong people aren't dumb, and the Tiananmen-denier became very VERY unpopular immediately. Right afterwards, he excused himself and went to Guangzhou for some "medical treatment". (Ironically, this incident reignited the call for official acknowledgment of the 1989 event, which made the Beijing government pretty uncomfortable as it was getting ready to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Hong Kong hand-over.)

But the fact that someone can make that claim out loud is worrying.

As "scholars", as people interested in China (to some degree), and as a generation that values finding out the truth via new forms of information exchange, I think we have the responsibility to not let people get away with denying certain ugly parts of history (like the Holocaust, the Rape of Nanjing, etc.). We need to inform ourselves and challenge those who want us to forget or become complacent.

On the campus of one of the universities in my city, there's a statue of the Goddess of Democracy (replica of the one erected in Tiananmen by the student protesters in 1989). I might make a pilgrimage to it in the next week or so.
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Unread postby Jebusrocks » Thu May 31, 2007 1:04 am

I feel sad for those who died at the Tiananmen Square for their beliefs on a democratic China; and half-succeeded on it as well. I hope the tank man is still alive
It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat.
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Unread postby English_Druid » Thu May 31, 2007 10:32 am

The photograph of the white shirted man standing before the row of tanks is an incredibly powerful and immortal image. - Click

I would urge everyone going to the 2008 Olympics to camp in the same square and protest the lack of any memorial there. How a state can commit such atrocities whilst the world watches in horror on TV, and then deny that it ever happened is beyond me!
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Unread postby Shadowlink » Thu May 31, 2007 3:47 pm

I would urge everyone going to the 2008 Olympics to camp in the same square and protest the lack of any memorial there
indeed then no one will go to 2008 china olympics and it is very important for them.
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Unread postby azn099 » Thu May 31, 2007 6:08 pm

Protesting at the 2008 Beijing Olympics... That's not what the Olympics were made for. The Olympics is a time when people all over the world come together for some friendly competition. My personal opinion is politics and stuff like this should be kept out of the Olympics. The point is to have a good time there, not boycotting or protesting. There are other times you can protest. The Olympics should not be the time you choose to protest.
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Unread postby Tigger of Kai » Thu May 31, 2007 7:05 pm

Well I think the Olympics are inherently political, and clearly the Beijing government is exploiting them for political purposes. But we are veering off-topic.
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Unread postby Lady Wu » Thu May 31, 2007 9:00 pm

You can be sure that China's going to stomp down on protests and stuff before the Olympics. And make sure that no one camps out on Tiananmen Square.
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Unread postby English_Druid » Fri Jun 01, 2007 10:06 pm

Inevitably it is up to the Chinese people whether they wish to bring enough pressure on their Government. Many of them know what happened and enough of them study at foreign institutions to bypass the Chinese governments censorship. Sure the Chinese government can be brutal, but it is up to a vigilant citizenry to act as final bulwark in defence of their civil liberties.
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Unread postby Lady Wu » Fri Jun 01, 2007 11:00 pm

English_Druid wrote:Inevitably it is up to the Chinese people whether they wish to bring enough pressure on their Government. Many of them know what happened and enough of them study at foreign institutions to bypass the Chinese governments censorship. Sure the Chinese government can be brutal, but it is up to a vigilant citizenry to act as final bulwark in defence of their civil liberties.

I agree that changing a government has to be done by the people of the country, not by outsiders (which is why I oppose the Iraq war no matter what the reason given). But the problem here is that most Chinese are concerned with the economy than with civil rights, and the government did a good job convincing people that certain things never happened.

Yes, having people study abroad helps significantly, because they can then have access to uncensored information. But once back in China, all bets are off.

Also, it's 18 years since Tiananmen. Parents of the victims are growing old and many have died. There's a whole generation that doesn't even remember it, and even if they do, it's part of Ancient History like the Cultural Revolution.
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Unread postby English_Druid » Sat Jun 02, 2007 1:08 pm

Yea. I do think that prosperity is trumping human rights and civil liberties and that it is the Chinese people accepting this. I also think there are cultural/historical reasons why the Chinese people don’t mind foregoing rights/liberties in the drive towards being a world superpower. Its a shame really, if Tiananmen Square is ever forgotten, the blame wont reast on the west but on the Chinese people.

Does anybody know whether the Chinese people place less emphasis on remembrance when it comes to things like this? They seem to place little value in 'the old' or 'the past' when it comes to property and buildings (beautiful old buildings are torn down to make way for ugly modern complexes and I saw a show on how little China cares about antiques which are cherished by the west). They also seem quick to forget events such as the Cultural Revolution and the Red Guards.
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