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The Tiananmen Square Massacre


On June 4th and 5th 1989, there were pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in the city centre of Beijing, China. The Tiananmen Square protests were mostly students’ demonstrations calling for democracy, free speech and a free press in China. They were halted in a bloody crackdown by the Chinese government, and these peacefully conceived protests are now known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Estimates of the death toll vary from several hundred to several thousand, with thousands more wounded.


The image of an unidentified man standing alone in defiance and blocking a column of Chinese tanks on June 5th remains a powerful statement of the human spirit and it’s need for justice and freedom for much of the world. In a speech to the President’s Club in 1999, Bruce Herschensohn, former deputy special assistant to President Richard Nixon, alleged that ‘Tank Man’ as he became known, was executed 14 days later; other sources alleged he was executed by firing squad a few months after the Tiananmen Square protests. In either case, he was presumed murdered by the Chinese Government.


Even today, 23 years later, the continued grip on the freedom of their citizens’ is apparent, with Hong Kong activists being detained on ‘suspicion’ of promoting an unauthorised assembly to commemorate the Tiananmen Square crackdown. The ban on the vigil and at least six arrests came amid growing concern internationally about the suppression of the semi-autonomous city’s traditional freedoms, including a national security law imposed by Beijing last year.


When you moan about slow internet, being unable to visit the beach either in the UK or Europe, or any of the other petty things that seem so important to you, remember those that died for simply peacefully protesting the lack of freedoms we take as expected.


And never think that such atrocities are unthinkable here, it is a short distance between public acceptance of Government corruption to that of fascism and the suppression of public speech and rights.
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