On April 15, following the death of former Party General Secretary Hu Yaobang, students begin to call for reforms. What begins as a small protest by a few schools soon turns into a national movement. Chinese people from all over the country and from every occupation gather and protest against government corruption, profiteering, and censorship. At the center of all this is Beijing, where tens of thousands of people march to Tiananmen Square every day in an attempt to bring about reform. In response to the protests, the government attempted several times to put an end to what they deemed was “anti-party” turmoil. Each of their tactics failed, culminating ultimately in the bloody massacre that occurred on the night of June 3 and lasted until June 5.
From mid-April until the end of May 1989, the student protests at Tiananmen Square grew into a nationwide pro-democracy movement, with more than a million Beijing citizens surging into the streets at one point to support the students. Photos: RFA
In May 1989, students went on hunger strike to urge the government toward a dialogue. The hunger strike lasted until May 19th when then state secretary Zhao Ziyang made his last public appearance and spoke with the students. Photos: RFA
A May 20 declaration of martial law failed to deter protesters, who managed to stop military trucks and speak with troops inside as they headed toward Tiananmen Square. Then, late on June 3, a deadly two-day crackdown began - leaving an untold number of dead and a government blackout on the incident in its wake. Photos: RFA
Through pictures and video, we explore the evolution of a pro-democracy movement that began peacefully but ended in tragedy on the night of June 3-4, 1989. This book marks the 24th anniversary of the Chinese army crackdown on student demonstrators and the citizens who supported them.
From the death of former Communist Party chief Hu Yaobang, accused of leniency toward China's young protesters, to the lifting of martial law eight months later, see the events that shaped this key period in Chinese history, 20 years ago.
At age six, Dan Southerland's son, Matthew, had heard enough to sympathize with the students protesting on the square. He drew dinosaurs representing the leadership and bird-like symbols of the students, easy prey to the much larger beasts.
On June 5, 1989 a lone man stood in front of a column of tanks and came to symbolize the Chinese people's resistance to the crackdown at Tiananmen Square. Hundreds of Chinese had been killed the day before, and, to this day, authorities would like them forgotten.
A soldier placed an army hat on a child's head, and the child happily saluted the crowd. No one knew what was coming, writes Dan Southerland, as he recalls the eve of a brutal crackdown in Beijing.