Tiananmen Square: The Ugly and Brutal Face of Communism in China

( June 4) 

More than 10,000 protesters were brutally killed on Tiananmen Sqaure in China’s Capital Beijing. Most of them were pro-democracy students. 

In this document we would recall that bloodbath first and then have a look about the larger issue of “Black deeds of Communist regimes” across the globe. 

Here is some information about the events in Beijing's Tiananmen Square on June 3-4, 1989. 

Tiananmen Square is located in the center of Beijing, the capital of China. 

Tiananmen means "gate of heavenly peace." 

In 1989, after several weeks of demonstrations, Chinese troops entered Tiananmen Square on June 4 and fired on civilians. 

Estimates of the death toll range from several hundred to thousands. 

It has been estimated that as many as 10,000 people were arrested during and after the protests. 

Several dozen people have been executed for their parts in the demonstrations. 

April 15, 1989 - Hu Yaobang, a former Communist Party leader, dies. Hu had worked to move China toward a more open political system and had become a symbol of democratic reform. 

April 18, 1989 - Thousands of mourning students march through the capital to Tiananmen Square, calling for a more democratic government. In the weeks that follow, thousands of people join the students in the square to protest against China's Communist rulers. 

May 13, 1989 - More than 100 students begin a hunger strike in Tiananmen Square. The number increases to several thousand over the next few days. 

May 19, 1989 - A rally at Tiananmen Square draws an estimated 1.2 million people. General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, Zhao Ziyang, appears at the rally and pleads for an end to the demonstrations. 

May 19, 1989 - Premier Li Peng imposes martial law. 

June 1, 1989 - China halts live American news telecasts in Beijing, including CNN. Also reporters are prohibited from photographing or videotaping any of the demonstrations or Chinese troops. 

June 2, 1989 - A reported 100,000 people attend a concert in Tiananmen Square by singer Hou Dejian, in support of the demonstrators. 

June 4, 1989 - At about 1 a.m. Chinese troops reach Tiananmen Square. Throughout the day, Chinese troops fire on civilians and students, ending the demonstrations. An official death toll has never been released. 

June 5, 1989 - An unidentified man stands alone in the street, blocking a column of Chinese tanks. He remains there for several minutes before being pulled away by onlookers. 

June 5, 1999 - Approximately 70,000 people in Hong Kong take part in a memorial vigil. 

June 1, 1999 - The National Security Archive publish "Tiananmen Square, 1989: The Declassified History." The archive includes US State Department documents related to the events that took place during the demonstrations. 

January 2001 - Two Chinese scholars publish "The Tiananmen Papers" amid controversy. The papers are presented as a collection of internal government documents including transcriptions of notes, speeches, meeting minutes and eyewitness accounts of the historical disaster. The Chinese government call the papers fabricated material.

February 2006 - Former journalist Yu Dongyue is released from prison after serving 17 years. He was arrested during the Tiananmen Square protests for throwing paint at a portrait of Mao Zedong. 

June 4, 2009 - Tens of thousands of people commemorate the 20th anniversary of Tiananmen Square at a gathering in Hong Kong. In Beijing, journalists are barred from the square while the government blocks foreign news sites and Twitter. 

April 2011 - The National Museum of China in Tiananmen Square is newly renovated and open to the public. The building contains no exhibits mentioning the events of June 1989. 

2012 - WuerKaixi, one of the organizers of the Tiananmen Square protest, attempts to return to China by turning himself over to the Chinese embassy in Washington, DC. The embassy does not answer the door. 

June 3, 2015 - Twenty-six years after the uprising in Tiananmen Square, a State Department Spokesperson issues a statement calling for the release of those still serving "Tiananmen-related sentences." 

October 15, 2016 - China is set to release Miao Deshun, the last known prisoner of the uprising, according to Dui Hua, a San Francisco-based human rights organization. 

Events leading up to the Tiananmen protests 

From April 1989 people from across China gathered in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to mourn the death of the liberal Communist Party leader Hu Yaobang and share their frustrations about the slow pace of promised reform. 

The gathering turned into peaceful protests which spread across the provinces of China as demonstrators, mainly students, began to call for an end to official corruption and for political and economic reform. 

A million demonstrators on the streets 

On 13 May, hundreds of student protesters in Tiananmen Square went on hunger strike in order to speak push for talks with Communist Party leaders. It is estimated that one million people joined the protests in Beijing to express their support for the students on hunger strike and to demand reform. 

Martial law declared 

Party leaders visited the student protests on 19 May. The protesters ended their hunger strike that evening. However, the next day martial law was declared in Beijing to ‘firmly stop the unrest’. 

In the weeks that followed the declaration of martial law, hundreds of thousands of people once again protested on the streets of Beijing, with similar demonstrations taking place in cities across China. 
Military open fire on civilians 

'The troops are by no means targeted at the students. Under no circumstances will [the troops] harm innocent people, let alone young students.'
Official New China News Agency, 1 May 1989 

Overnight on 3 to 4 June, the government sent tens of thousands of armed troops and hundreds of armoured military vehicles into the city centre to enforce martial law and forcibly clear the streets of demonstrators. The government wanted to 'restore order' in the capital. 

As they approached the demonstrations, troops opened fire on crowds of protesters and onlookers. They gave no warning before they started shooting. 

'The first casualty in the square was rushed away - a girl with her face smashed and bloody, carried spread-eagled towards the trees. Another followed - a youth with a bloody mess around his chest.'
John Gittings, The Guardian 

As the troops kept firing into the crowds, some of those running away were shot in the back. Others were crushed to death by military vehicles. No one knows the death toll from Tiananmen that night. 

'We took the wounded on stretchers and went down [Tiananmen] Square. As we went down the side of the Square, we saw soldiers with large plastic bags. They were putting people in the bags. I could not tell how many people...
'There were also people surrounded by soldiers, being kicked by them. I could hear shouts and the odd gunshot. I thought there were around 200 young people. In early July, I heard from Public Security [police] sources that they had all been executed on 9 June in a rural district near Beijing. They included students and residents of Beijing.'

Tank Man 
The Tiananmen protests were immortalised in Western media on 5 June through the image of a lone man in a white shirt carrying shopping bags, facing an imposing column of military tanks sent by the government to disperse protesters. The man is known simply as Tank Man: his identity has never been confirmed. 

Tank Man would not let the military vehicles pass. He succeeded. Eventually, he was pulled out of the way of danger by onlookers. But the image of unarmed man versus tank quickly came to symbolise the struggle of the Tiananmen protesters - peaceful protest met with military might. 

'It demonstrates one man's extraordinary courage, standing up in front of a row of tanks, being prepared to sacrifice his own life for the sake of social justice'

Stuart Franklin took the Tank Man photograph. 

Crackdown following protests 

Immediately after the military crackdown, the Chinese authorities began to hunt down those involved in the demonstrations. Thousands of people were detained, tortured, imprisoned or executed after unfair trials charged with ‘counter-revolutionary’ crimes. 

The Chinese authorities have never disclosed the total number of people detained, tried or executed throughout China since the June 1989 crackdown. 

In the climate of terror which followed the massacre, the relatives of those killed were not only unable to seek justice for their loss; they were even unable to mourn openly the dead, who were officially described as ‘rioters’. 

Tiananmen remains a banned subject in China 

Tiananmen and the 1989 crackdown remains an official taboo topic in China. There is no official death toll. Attempts to discuss, commemorate and demand justice for what happened have been forcefully curbed, with no public discussion allowed. Since 1989 many people have been imprisoned for commemorating events or questioning the official line. 

Only recently a court in Changshu in eastern China found Gu Yimin guilty of inciting state subversion after he tried to post images of the post-Tiananmen crackdown online and applied to stage a protest on the 24th anniversary. 

(Sources: CNN, BBC, The Guardian, New York Times, Washington Post, British and US archives) 

Communism: Crime, Terror and Repression 

Excerpts from the ‘The Black Book of Communism: Crime, Terror, Repression’ 

( Stephane Courtois, Nicolas Werth, Jean-Louis Panne, Andrzej Paczkowski, Karel Bartosek, Jean-Louis Margolin, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England 1999 ) 

..Many archives and witnesses prove conclusively that terror has always been one of the basic ingredients of modern Communism. Let us abandon once and for all the idea that the execution of hostages by firing squads, the slaughter of rebellious workers, and the forced starvation of the peasantry were only short-term “accidents” peculiar to a specific country or era. Our approach will encompass all geographic areas and focus on crime as a defining characteristic of the Communist system throughout its existence. 

Exactly what crimes are we going to examine? Communism has committed a multitude of crimes not only against individual human beings but also against world civilization and national cultures. Stalin demolished dozens of churches in Moscow; Nicolae Ceau^escu destroyed the historical heart of Bucharest to give free rein to his megalomania; Pol Pot dismantled the Phnom Penh cathedral stone by stone and allowed the jungle to take over the temples of Angkor Wat; and during Mao’s Cultural Revolution, priceless treasures were smashed or burned by the Red Guards. Yet however terrible this destruction may ultimately prove for the nations in question and for humanity as a whole, how does it compare with the mass murder of human beings —of men, women, and children? 

Thus we have delimited crimes against civilians as the essence of the phenomenon of terror. These crimes tend to fit a recognizable pattern even if the practices vary to some extent by regime. The pattern includes execution by various means, such as firing squads, hanging, drowning, battering, and, in certain cases, gassing, poisoning, or “car accidents”; destruction of the population by starvation, through man-made famine, the withholding of food, or both; deportation, through which death can occur in transit (either through physical exhaustion or through confinement in an enclosed space), at one’splace of residence, or through forced labor (exhaustion, illness, hunger, cold). 

Periods described as times of “civil war” are more complex — it is not always easy to distinguish between events caused by fighting between rulers and rebels and events that can properly be described only as a massacre of the civilian population. 

Nonetheless, we have to start somewhere. The following rough approximation, based on unofficial estimates, gives some sense of the scale and gravity of these crimes: 

U.S.S.R.: 20 million deaths 

China: 65 million deaths 

Vietnam: 1 million deaths 

North Korea: 2 million deaths 

Cambodia: 2 million deaths 

Eastern Europe: 1 million deaths 

Latin America: 150,000 deaths 

Africa: 1.7 million deaths 

Afghanistan: 1.5 million deaths 

The international Communist movement and Communist parties not in power: about 10,000 deaths 
The total approaches 100 million people killed. 

The immense number of deaths conceals some wide disparities according to context. Unquestionably, if we approach these figures in terms of relativeweight, first place goes to Cambodia, where Pol Pot, in three and a half years, engaged in the most atrocious slaughter, through torture and widespread famine, of about one-fourth of the country’s total population. However, China’s experience under Mao is unprecedented in terms of the sheer number of people who lost their lives. As for the Soviet Union of Lenin and Stalin, the blood turns cold at its venture into planned, logical, and “politically correct” mass slaughter. 

One cannot help noticing the strong contrast between the study of Nazi and Communist crimes. The victors of 1945 legitimately made Nazi crimes and especially the genocide of the Jews — the central focus of their condemnation of Nazism. A number of researchers around the world have been working on these issues for decades. Thousands of books and dozens of films — most notably Night arid Fog, Shoah, Sophie’s Choice, and Schmdlers List— have been devoted to the subject. Raul Hilberg, to name but one example, has centered his major work upon a detailed description of the methods used to put Jews to death in the Third Reich. 

Yet scholars have neglected the crimes committed by the Communists. While names such as Himmler and Eichmann are recognized around the world as bywords for twentieth-century barbarism, the names of Feliks Dzerzhinsky, GenrikhYagoda, and Nikolai Ezhov languish in obscurity. As for Lenin, Mao,Ho Chi Minn, and even Stalin, they have always enjoyed a surprising reverence. 

A French government agency, the National Lottery, was crazy enough to use Stalin and Mao in one of its advertising campaigns. Would anyone even dare to come up with the idea of featuring Hitler or Goebbels in commercials? 

The extraordinary attention paid to Hitler’s crimes is entirely justified. It respects the wishes of the surviving witnesses, it satisfies the needs of researchers trying to understand these events, and it reflects the desire of moral and political authorities to strengthen democratic values. But the revelations concerning Communist crimes cause barely a stir. Why is there such an awkward silence from politicians? Why such a deafening silence from the academic world regarding the Communist catastrophe, which touched the lives of about one-third of humanity on four continents during a period spanning eighty years? Why is there such widespread reluctance to make such a crucial factor as crime — mass crime, systematic crime, and crime against humanity — a central factor in the analysis of Communism? Is this really something that is beyond human understanding? Or are we talking: about a refusal to scrutinize the subject too closely for fear of learning the truth about it? 

…….The first turning point in the official recognition of Communist crimes came on the evening of 24 February 1956, when First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev took the podium at the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the CPSU The proceedings were conducted behind closed doors; only delegates to the Congress were present. In absolute silence, stunned by what they were hearing, the delegates listened as the first secretary of the Party systematically dismantled the image of the “little father of the peoples,” of the “genius Stalin,” who for thirty years had been the hero of world Communism. This report, immortalized as Khrushchev’s “Secret Speech,” was one of the watersheds in the life of contemporary Communism. 

For the first time, a high-ranking Communist leader had officially acknowledged, albeit only as a tactical concession, that the regime that assumed power in 1917 had undergone a criminal “deviation.” Khrushchev’s motivations for breaking one of the great taboos of the Soviet regime were numerous. Khrushchev’s primary aim was to attribute the crimes of Communism only to Stalin, thus circumscribing the evil, and to eradicate it once and for all in an effort to salvage the Communist regime. A determination to carry out an attack on Stalin’s clique, which stood in the way of Khrushchev’s power and believed in the methods practiced by their former boss, entered equally into his decision. Beginning in June 1957, these men were systematically removed from office… 

(Source: www.thenationalistview.com- It is a research and reference website with authentic documents and research papers.) 

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