‘Tank Man’ stands alone to block tanks in Tiananmen Square on June 5, 1989

June 4 marked the 35th anniversary of the massacre in Tiananmen Square, when the Chinese communist regime brutally cracked down on student protestors who had been peacefully occupying the square. 

Beginning in April 1989, a student-led pro-democracy movement in Beijing began protesting in Tiananmen Square. Protesters called for political reform and the respect for human rights in the wake of the death of liberal Communist Party member Hu Yaobang.

By late May, the growing protests pushed the government to declare martial law in an attempt to put an end to the unrest.

Overnight on 3 to 4 June, the government sent tens of thousands of armed troops and hundreds of armoured military vehicles including tanks 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.

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. 

The photo above was shared with the world and has become the most famous image of the massacre. 

Known as ‘Tank Man’, this unknown protester was photographed and videotaped as he stood in front of a convoy of tanks in an attempt to block their advance on June 5, 1989, one day after the violence reached its boiling point in Tiananmen Square.

The identity of this incredibly brave man is not known nor what happened to him after he was escorted away.

It’s also not known what happened to the tank crew who chose to stop rather than run over him……undoubtedly against orders.

Chinese students in Tiananmen Square 1989

The event remains deeply controversial throughout China. Internet, textbook and media censorship of the events is widespread throughout the country.

The Chinese authorities want everyone to forget that they killed hundreds, if not thousands, of unarmed peaceful pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square and throughout China.

However, many refuse to forget Tiananmen Square. Human rights lawyer and activist Chow Hang-tung, who was wrongly imprisoned in Hong Kong, is one of them.

For many years, Chow Hang-tung had helped to organise a peaceful annual remembrance of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

In 2021, after she posted on social media to encourage people to simply light candles at home, Chow Hang-tung was unjustly imprisoned in Hong Kong.

Many others have shared the same fate.

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

Tiananmen and the 1989 crackdown remain 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.

Perhaps The Greens leader Adam Bandt would like to comment on this outrage?

He and his comrades within both The Greens and extreme-left faction of the ALP will probably consider it quite acceptable because that’s what they would also like to see happen in Australia as they actively promote communism and the evil it represents.

Communism is anti-freedom. It needs to be opposed by all of us who value freedom of the individual, freedom of speech, and human rights.

It’s an interesting comparison with how our weak authorities have handled protests by pro-Palestine/pro-Hamas mobs screaming racial and religious hatred.

One extreme to the other!

A group of journalists support the pro-Democracy protest in China

FOOTNOTE

The author, Cliff Reece, was living and working in Hong Kong during this period and visited Beijing in August 1989, shortly after the Tiananmen Square massacre. He subsequently established a lobby group Hong Kong 3000 Foundation which, in tandem with other similar groups, managed to convince the British Government to provide tangible support to Hong Kong residents wishing to escape the threat of communism.   

Thanks to Amnesty International and The World (TheWorld.org), together with Dominic Dudouble, Arthur Tsang Hin Wah and Reuters for the images.

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