Remembering Tiananmen

On April 15, 1989, following the death of Communist Party General Secretary Hu Yaobang, students began to call for democratic reforms. What began as small protests by a few universities soon turned into a national movement. People of all walks of life gathered across China to protest government corruption, profiteering, and media censorship. At the center of all this was Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, where tens of thousands joined the peaceful, student-led protests. The Chinese government viewed the movement as “anti-party turmoil.” On the night of June 3, authorities sent armed troops to crush the protests. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, were killed.


Timeline of Events


The Protests

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

Hunger Strikes

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


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Tiananmen Diaries

A Child’s View of Tiananmen

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.

Silent Rage

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.

From Hope to Fear

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.


Remembering Tiananmen

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.