China is one place that has never surprised the world, not when it achieves something great or even when it does something the world should naturally think as crazy. However, from April 15 to June 4, 1989, it managed to shock the world when it carried out what would be known as the infamous Tiananmen Square Massacre.
The massacre which mostly had students and young people as the victims saw the Chinese government kill thousands who gathered to protest against the communist government and demand for democracy. Here is all that you may want to know about the tragic event.
The Tiananmen Square Massacre
Often referred to as the Gate of Heavenly Peace, Tiananmen became one of those places that would see the opening of the gates of hell through this event that left the whole of China devastated and changed the way the world would see the Asian nation for many years that would come.
The massacre climaxed on June 4, 1989, from events that began seven weeks earlier. It highlights the murder of between thousands and hundreds of thousands of unarmed students who took to the streets and later the popular square to protest the happenings in the country and demand for the introduction of democracy.
With the calls getting stronger with each passing day and more people joining into the millions, there was the obvious fear that a social change was inevitable and the government would have to give way. However, the government gave a martial law and just when it was believed that the Asian country was on its way to becoming a democratic state, government forces took to the square where many were gathered and they fired live bullets into protesters, leading to the deaths of many and the arrest of even more.
By the morning of the next day, China had changed, but not in the way anyone would have thought. What many people found as much tragic as the remorseless massacre has been the unending effort by the Chinese government to hide all that had happened from the history books of the country.
What Really Happened?
From the 1970s, China had been greeted with many protests from students who were tired of the suppression of their government, issues of freedom of speech, better living conditions, and much more. In culmination, they wanted to have a democratic government for the first time in the country.
Although Hu Yaobang was a member of the communist party, he had a liberal ideology and he became the inspiration for the protests as a result of his pro-revolution stance. When he died on April 15, 1989, from a heart attack, it became a personal loss for students who took to Tiananmen Square to mourn one of the most loved Chinese leaders among the liberals.
Although there was the belief by the government that the grief of students would not degenerate to any serious protest, they were very wrong as the grief came with expressing the frustrations they had endured from the lack of political reforms and the corruption that had infected the system.
It can be said that the events leading to the Tiananmen Square massacre began properly on the day Hu was buried; April 22. On that day, more than 50,000 students gathered on the square with a letter for Premier Li Peng stating their case.
In the weeks that followed, the protest kept growing and ordinary citizens started joining, signaling to the government that this was not just any protest like those before. Hu’s loss started a fire for a democratic cry that was loud and clear.
Almost 1.2 million people gathered on May 19 for a rally. To quell the tension, the Premier imposed martial law in the city but that did nothing to stop the protesters. By the next 11 days, there was already a statue of 10 meters that was standing at the center of the square called the Goddess of Democracy.
Never had it ever seemed too close to democracy in China at the time, and so the government had to take a decisive step. On June 3rd, convoys of armed troops made it to Beijing with an order to clear the square using any means; no matter what it would cost.
The tragedy began with civilians who blocked the streets to protect the students in the square; they were shot and killed. Students decided to fight back but unarmed, they were overwhelmed.
By the time the sun was up on June 4, thousands to hundreds of thousands were already dead and many more were arrested. Some among these spent decades behind bars.