The state wants us to forget, but those of us who were there in 1989 cling to our memories – and worry for Hong Kong
Date: 4 Jun 2020
By: Ma Jian
To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre last year, I posted a photograph online of a night scene showing the mass hunger strike that took place there. It was taken by a friend of mine in May 1989 from the roof of Beijing’s Museum of Chinese History. He allowed me to share it as long as his identity was concealed, knowing that in China, this visual testament to a still taboo event could land him in jail.
A year on from the 30th anniversary, as the Chinese Communist party’s tyranny endangers lives and freedoms across the world, the photograph and the suppressed truth it embodies are even more significant.
For 31 years, the CCP has buried the truth about Tiananmen. In 1989 it branded the nationwide peaceful pro-democracy movement a “counter-revolutionary riot”, and on 4 June, sent tanks to clear the square, then crush and gun down unarmed citizens in the surrounding streets. It said the massacre was essential for China’s future order and prosperity. It claimed only 241 people died, when unofficial estimates are many times higher. Then it outlawed any further mention of the event.
The message to the Chinese people was: the mass movement never took place; those peaceful protesters were thugs. Only the party can restore order and make you rich. Keep quiet, forget the past. Forget democracy and freedom. For the sake of stability and economic growth, the state can murder civilians.
But the underlying truth was simpler: dictators will always put their political survival above human life. They will not rest until they have perverted every truth and obliterated all possibility of dissent. [FULL STORY]