For the massacre’s victims, and for those whom an increasingly aggressive, totalitarian Beijing would victimize in the future, we must remember June 4, 1989.
This week, China will diverge from the rest of the world as if it resides in an alternate universe. While outside of China the world will commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre that took place on June 4th, 1989, inside the country President Xi Jinping’s regime will continue its campaign of silence: not acknowledging the massacre ever took place; not apologizing to victims and their families; strongly condemning any commemorative activities outside China; and deploying its massive cyber-security force to vigorously scrub any mention of the incident from the domestic Internet.
The censorship will be so thorough that Chinese people won’t even be able to send a text message that contains any one of the numbers eight, nine, six, and four. Such a campaign of silence has been going on for 30 years, and as technology has improved, the Chinese government has only gotten better at suppressing dissent.
At least 10,000 people died in Tiananmen Square massacre, secret British cable from the time alleged Secret document suggested death toll was much higher than later reported, while claiming wounded students were bayoneted as they begged for their lives and the burnt remains of victims were ‘hosed down the drains’
Melissa Chen a human rights activist & Managing Director@Ideas Beyond Borders wrote on Facebook
“Tank Man. 30 years later and his identity and fate remains a mystery. Why do we fetishize the image of this unknown hero so much?
In him, we see the power of an individual standing up to a militarized state. We see the spirit of punk rock, of rebellion. We see the juxtaposition of peaceful resistance against an instrument of war. Carrying two plastic bags full of groceries, we see this man as a symbol of Plebeian radicalism, with nothing but the enormous courage to stop not just one tank but an army. In him, we see the human soul’s yearning to be free.
The reasons we have elevated this image to iconic status are precisely the same reasons that compel the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to scrupulously scrub it from its firewalled internet, to purge all mention of the event that it is most closely associated with – the Tiananmen Square massacre. In many ways, China’s state-induced collective amnesia is unprecedented in our modern times and impressive at this massive scale. But why, why is Tiananmen so threatening to the Party and it’s new President for Life?
For starters, the events of June 4th exposes the CCP and would convince the people to doubt its legitimacy. How fragile is its authority and the social contract between the governed and the government that such knowledge has the potential to foment political instability? But even more insidiously, the total erasure of the memories of the Tiananmen massacre ensures that the desire of the Chinese people for freedom and democracy remain repressed, so that the myth of Chinese incompatibility with “Western-style” freedom remains firmly entrenched. This only serves to consolidate the CCP’s power, and as we have seen unfailingly, absolute power absolutely corrupts.
Will there be a day of reckoning, where the CCP will finally have to acknowledge the truth? And what of the fate of Tank Man, which only the regime has full knowledge of? Onto this enduring symbol of defiance and tragedy, all freedom-loving people are wont to project all hopes and convictions.
Inside China, history may be rewritten. But it’s up to the rest of us outside of it to ensure it remains true, and is never forgotten.”