Tiananmen Square 25 Years Later: Mourning, Struggle, But Little Progress

The Chinese government tightened security in and around Beijing this week, in anticipation of the 25 year anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protest of June 3-4, 1989. Fox News reports that the government’s tight security affected not only mourners who traveled to the public square, but also the friends and family of many of the protesters who were killed. Many of them were placed under state surveillance during the week. Some were allowed to visit grave sites of relatives killed in the crackdown in Tiananmen Square while others felt as if they could not observe the occasion, even in their own homes.

“The Chinese government has largely ignored the relatives’ demands for an admission of wrongdoing and for a complete, formal accounting of the crackdown and the number of casualties,” the article says. “Beijing’s verdict is that the student-led protests aimed to topple the ruling Communist Party and plunge China into chaos. Protest leaders said they were seeking broader democracy and freedom, along with an end to corruption and favoritism within the party.”

“Dozens of dissidents and other critics have already been detained by police, held under house arrest or sent out of the city in what they say is a more restrictive clampdown than usual reflecting the increasingly conservative political atmosphere under President Xi Jinping.”

A Vancouver, B.C. man who participated in the Tiananmen Square protests before leaving China (and later Hong Kong) to avoid Chinese state harassment talked with the CBC about his recollections of the events in the square. He recalls having not having had much involvement in political matters before the event, and being radicalized by the experiences he had during the government’s military crackdown.

From the article, Li’s description of his role in the events at Tiananmen Square:

“Li watched as people fell to the ground on both sides of the street. His clothes were covered in blood, from carrying injured people, trying to get them to hospital.”

Meanwhile, the Office of the Press Secretary has issued a boilerplate memorial regarding the anniversary of the events in the square. The text of it acknowledges the protest and calls upon the Chinese government once again to apologize for its behavior during the Tiananmen Square protests, pointing out the differences in the ways the two countries address dissent.

Despite the intransigence of the Chinese government in relation to both the country’s pro-democracy movement and its relationship to the events in Tiananmen Square, the event has become a symbol of hope around the world. The iconic image of Tank Man, the lone protester who stood down the line of artillery vehicles headed into the Tiananmen, has become a symbol of hope for Chinese activists in Hong Kong and elsewhere, who gather at their own events, outside the reach of the mainland government, and remember those who lost their lives in Tiananmen Square. (See The Inquisitr‘s profile of the journalist who captured Tank Man on film during the original Tiananmen Square protests here.)

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

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