When former General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Hu Yaobang (胡耀邦), sacked by Deng Xiaoping for his bolder calls for re-evaluating the past and reforming for the future, died on April 15, 1989, college students in Beijing began a wave of memorials to express their sadness and anger. Soon the students were on the street demanding freedom and democracy. Quickly the movement spread to cities all over China and to people from all walks of life. On June 4th, it ended with guns, tanks and deaths.
At the time I lived in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, and was among the few in China that had the news coming from Hong Kong TV. I remember, among the last images available, bulldozers rolling over the makeshift tents in Tiananmen Square the night of June 3rd. The next image I remember was the morning after (or perhaps that of June 5th) shown on CCTV: the square was empty under a gray sky, around the base of the Monument to the People’s Heroes, the floor was washed, wet, reflecting early morning light. It was June and in sweltering south, but that sight chilled me to the bones.
Since late May, my Twitter timeline has had almost nothing else but June 4th: every aspect of it, everything having to do with it. This is my first year on Twitter, and others observed that this year, the 23 anniversary, feels heavier and more intense. Microblogs inside China have censored every possible mention of the occasion, down to the candle icon and the character “占” (you’ll see why). I wanted to share a few items from Twitter and Weibo with our readers here to learn about, and remember, this day, not to mention the perspective it provides to our observations of China today.
- greendyj’s bot@dengbot/＞80 times RT @dyc741214: It is 9:30pm now Beijing time. Around this moment twenty-three years ago, the 38th Army from Baoding (保定) fired the first shot in front of the Military Museum, marking the beginning of the bloody crackdown. Let’s not forget that evil bullet!
Mr. Wu Renhua, a participant of June 4th and an exile living in Los Angeles for more than 20 years, has been the self-appointed historian dedicated to finding and recording everything about the event. He has been tweeting, the last couple of days, names of the known dead. So far 202 have been identified by the group called Tiananmen Mothers:
- 吴仁华@wurenhua/ 51. Zou Bing, female, age about 19 years old, student of Beijing Broadcast College, class ’92; 52. Pao Changkui, age 47, performer of National Ensemble of Minorities Songs and Dances; 53. Bian Zongxu, age 40, manager of mechanical and electrical products supply Co., Xinjiekou, Beijing; 54. Tian Daomin, age 22, student of Business Management Department, University of Science and Technology Beijing, class ’89; 55. He Jie, age 23, graduate student of Institute of Computing Technology, Science Academy of China.
10:55 PM – 2 Jun 12via web · Details
- 中国大陆新闻海外最新报导@sfchinese/ Out of the 1,602 people sentenced during and after June 4th, seven are still in jail…. http://bit.ly/JG4VQF
[Yaxue’s note: The numbers of arrests and sentences have been hotly disputed. Translation doesn’t mean endorsement.]
- 成都凯旋@kaixuan2010/ People probably have forgotten Zhou Yongjun (周勇军), who was one of the three students who knelt on the steps of People’s Congress to petition Li Peng (李鹏, then Prime Minister). He’s been imprisoned the second time with a 9-year sentence [in early 2010]. He is suffering from serious medical problems with incontinence.
8:27 PM – 2 Jun 12via Mobile Web · Embed this Tweet
- 蓝色风@straightbar/ …Presently, the Beijinger walked up to the soldiers while taking his shirt off . With only an undershirt and boxer shorts on him, and shirt in a hand, he shouted at the soldiers: “You can’t kill the students!”, his chest touching the tip of the bayonet. Just then, the gun fired, “Pang!”, on his chest. http://www.epochtimes.com/gb/12/6/2/n3602902.htmhttp://img.ly/j3aL
- 流雲@liuyun1989/ from Apple Daily: During the June 4th Massacre of ’89, tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square around midnight and cleared it. For years there have been no images available of the aftermath. A picture surfaced recently, and it was taken by a participating service man at the time.
- soundfury@soundfury/ Sina Weibo has begun to delete posts on mass. Even the one below didn’t survive: “Friends in Hong Kong can go to Victoria Park tomorrow, while friends in Taiwan to Liberty Square, for anniversary events.”
10:56 PM – 2 Jun 12via web · Details
- free2000fly@free2000fly/ Sohu Weibo blocked my account for posting the following gibberish “占占占占人 占占占点 占占点占 占点占占 点占占占 灬占占占占”.
5:43 AM – 3 Jun 12via web · Embed this Tweet
(Any clue? 占 –tank; 点—tank running over a person; three tanks running over a person; the person became 灬)
- 流雲@liuyun1989/ #8964 song “For Freedom” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAx1TcHbwL8&feature=player_embedded [video of Hong Kong singers and movie stars singing the song in support of the movement]