#Tiananmen30: A reflection and call to action
In memory of those who stood up for their rights, lost their lives and for those still unjustly imprisoned today in China.
Thirty years ago tonight it began.
The Pro-Democracy Movement that had taken to the streets in April of 1989 was violently crushed by the Chinese communist dictatorship beginning on the evening of June 3, 1989. By dawn on June 4, 1989 scores of demonstrators had been shot and killed or run over and crushed by tanks of the so-called People’s Liberation Army.
Thousands more would be rounded up, arrested and sentenced to prison in show trials. As many as a thousand received death sentences that were carried out.
The response of the West and the United States at the forefront? Pro forma protests to satisfy the outrage of their citizens while secretly meeting with the men who had ordered the mass killing to let them know that what was important was their economic relationship.
Two weeks prior to the Tiananmen Square massacre then Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping observed: “Two hundred dead could bring 20 years of peace to China.”
Thirty years ago I was an undergraduate at Florida International University studying biology. The first months of 1989 filled one with hope as events began to unfold favorably in Poland and in the rest of the Eastern bloc. In April mass demonstrations by Chinese students demanding accountability, an end to corruption, and democratic reforms began and seemed to be part of a worldwide democratic wave. In Eastern Europe, with the exception of Romania, the autocrats refused to fire on large gatherings of nonviolent protesters, and in relatively short order they were free.
This was not to be the case in China. The communist Chinese leadership had attempted to order their troops to crackdown on the Chinese students on May 20, 1989 only to have their orders rejected.
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