1989's occasion at
Tiananmen Square was really two things:
(1.) Uprising for democratic reform of China
led by college students of China
peaceful assembly for redress of grievances
(2.) Bloody crackdown, or 'The Army Strikes Back'
~3,000 people killed • June 4, 1989
epic injustice • human rights abuse • tragic crime against humanity
mass murder by dictatorship still in office
- This is why Generation X is known as the Tiananmen Generation in China -
Guitarist/songwriter Tim Britt is the driving force for NoManZero and Light Club. Both bands recorded this song. To hear more, click to our
In the spring of 1989, college students in China led a pro-democracy movement, calling for freedom, democracy, less corruption, and more transparency from China's Communist leaders. Their protest was peaceful, non-violent, and the protesters were unarmed.
Their protest also caught on widely, drawing in intellectuals, journalists, and labor leaders. Millions of people joined them on the streets of Beijing, and the students were able to take over Tiananmen Square, at the heart of China's capital, for seven weeks. There, they erected a statue that resembled the Statue of Liberty. Their version was dubbed the Goddess of Democracy.
During this time, the leadership of China was caught in a power struggle, where some Communist leaders were indeed sympathetic to the students' demands. In that internal power struggle, the hardliners won out, and the reform minded leaders were put away. Deng Xiaoping approved a plan to declare martial law and to call in the army.
The results of that decision came on the night of June 3 - 4, 1989. Chinese tanks and troops opened fire with live ammunition as they swept into Tiananmen Square, indiscriminately shooting unarmed protesters. The massacre was televised live to the rest of the world. Protesters, and the Goddess of Democracy, were crushed. One hardy protester stared down a line of tanks. [See picture at top.]
All efforts were to no avail. When it was over, about 3,000 people were killed, and about 10,000 wounded. Also, the Chinese authorities put out a dragnet, and began arresting people by the thousands. The scale of the injustice and the atrocity, here on the part of Chinese Communists, cannot be overstated. Among miscarriages of government and authority, this was huge, epic, monumental, egregious, and not to be forgotten by history.
This map of Beijing shows that blood loss occurred on every approach route to Tiananmen Square.
Can you imagine if civilians experienced a September 11 attack -- openly from their own government as the prime mover? That is what the Tiananmen Square massacre was in China. Perhaps notably, the casualties and the students in Tiananmen Square were mainly in the Generation X age range. In China, this age bracket became known as the "Tiananmen Generation."
"A new China, democratic, free, civilized, strong, wealthy, unified, and peaceloving, shall stand tall in the Orient."
--The Writing On The Wall at Tiananmen Square
In Beijing after the massacre, an unknown writer placed a poster on a wall. His poster said this--
Among those who died, there were students and ordinary citizens, adults and children, pregnant women and loving couples, Chinese citizens and foreign friends. They were all peaceful, conscientious, and kind people. They never suspected that the reactionary troops and police would inflict upon them the catastrophe of death until the last moments of their lives. Their deaths are utterly unjustified. Come back to us, you the unyielding souls! Rise to further actions, we who are still alive....
The national movement that we are engaged in is a political struggle by which dictators will be overthrown, corruption will be uprooted, freedom for the people will be secured. It is a life and death fight of the populace against a handful of demogogues, traitors and tyrants. It is a war against darkness and for light. The dictators and tyrants have long sensed their final days. They are fighting like a cornered animal. For their last hope of life they even resorted to killing thousands of their own people....
A new China, democratic, free, civilized, strong, wealthy, unified, and peaceloving, shall stand tall in the Orient.
We firmly believe that there will be a day when we will be able to cheer and sing victory for those who died yesterday, for those who are dying today and will be dying tomorrow, and for those who are meeting today in this world and will meet in heaven tomorrow.
Come back you unyielding souls!
--It is a passionate political tract, written while blood was still fresh in the streets, while likely amped with adrenaline. Through the writer's intense anguish, somehow the third paragraph was written, and it serves to tell us that the whole movement has a constructive purpose.
In the United States, the China Support Network was founded by Americans who cared to help the cause. Among, frankly, many groups which flowered, the China Support Network was immediately nationwide, due to its use of the early internet and the Compuserve Information Service.
This organization was founded with its cardinal principle -- that China must have self determination. In later years, we have added a second "must:" China's future must include all of China's people.
From that beginning, Americans joined the China Support Network (CSN), and when Chinese student leaders, who escaped China, arrived in the U.S., our organization worked directly with them and with their otherwise-Chinese handlers. The CSN continues to have a working relationship with leading Chinese dissidents that is ongoing.
Some history from CSN, and from contributors, appears below:
Why We Should Help China
On Western Attitudes
In this speech of 1989, Charlie Grapski seeks to help Americans to overcome apathy, with the idea that human rights are universal. Read more
In this writing of 1990, Fang Lizhi chides Western politicians for a double standard, and deconstructs the theory of "China's unique characteristics." Read more
A Warning Of Today's Holocaust
Writing prior to the award of the 2008 Olympics to Beijing, China, by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), in 2001, David Chu reveals a litany of China's atrocities, threats, and dangers. He likens China to Nazi Germany of the 1930s, and warns that we are overlooking the lessons of history. Read more
Why Did People Power Fail?
America, Come Back To
Your Original Calling!
In this writing from the early 1990s, David Chu criticizes an aspect of the student uprising in Tiananmen Square. That aspect is where students thought that the system could be reformed from within, while remaining in place. Chu is adamant that communism is corrupt to the core, and that there is no hope of communism reforming itself. Read more
In this speech of 2001, John Kusumi develops his themes that China faces a holocaust; that America has chosen the weaker of its options with China; that "the craft and practice of governing has been replaced with the craft and practice of commercialism"; and, he praises the heroic World War II generation. Read more
From 2001 - 2008, CSN pushed back against Beijing's host city selection for the 2008 Olympics. The story of our campaign is memorialized in a podcast here, preserved from April 12, 2008.
(Click the title to start the podcast. Can't hear it? This requires Microsoft Silverlight. Get it for your browser here.) Player controls are found atop column at right.
|Freedom First, Olympics Second (New York)|
Sunday, Apr 13 2008
Shortly after the podcast above, we rallied once again in New York City's Union Square. This video shows the Light Club performance of the Freedom First, Olympics Second theme song.
|Freedom First, Olympics Second (New Haven)|
New Haven, Connecticut (home of Yale University) was host to our march and rally on the New Haven Green, April 26, 2008.