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20 years on: Memories of Tiananmen

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on June 4, 2009


Tiananmen memories

On 3-4 June 1989, hundreds – possibly thousands – of Chinese protesters were killed when their call for democracy on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square was brutally crushed.

Here some of the people affected by the massacre describe their experience to the BBC in video and text.


Bao Tong

What I feel most guilty about is that the 4 June incident happened while I was one of those tasked with bringing in political reform.

Bao Tong was a senior Communist Party official with a reformist agenda. He was arrested shortly before the Tiananmen crackdown, and remains under house arrest.


Wuer Kaixi

If I had known the result would be so bloody, would I have still done the same? The answer is perhaps not.

Protest organiser Wu’er Kaixi fled China following the demonstration, and remains a political commentator and democracy activist.


Tiananmen Mothers' leader Ding Zilin

I said to my husband and son, something’s going to happen today. But my son… said there were still so many people on the square that he wanted to go.

Ding Zilin is one of hundreds of parents whose children were killed in the Tiananmen massacre.


Han Dongfang

If we see this as a boxing match, yes somebody hit our face, we got a broken nose. But that match is not finished yet.

Han Dongfang, a railway worker, became the spokesman for China’s first autonomous workers’ union, set up in the square on 19 May 1989.


Photographer Jeff Widener

Suddenly this man walks out with his shopping bags. My first instinct was: “He’s going to mess up my composition”.

Jeff Widener took the image of the lone Tiananmen protester who stood in front of a convoy of tanks – probably the most iconic image of the crackdown.



There isn’t any information about this in any of our textbooks for primary and middle school students. But this is something that we cannot forget.

This eyewitness was in Beijing throughout the protests and saw many injured people. He is still afraid of speaking out about what he saw.

China’s unofficial leader at the time, Deng Xiaoping, said the crackdown was necessary because the government was dealing with “a number of rebels” and people who were “the dregs of society”. Click here to read a speech he made shortly after the massacre, explaining the government’s actions.


One Response

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  1. SimplyLife said, on June 6, 2009 at 12:01 am

    Tank Man, a symbol of resistance, rebel extraordinary. It cant be imagined that a man, after the previous days bloodbath can stand in front of the advancing tanks. That is some nerve.

    Today, Chinese are happy, they have been given a prosperous, resurgent China.

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