Tuesday, 4 June 2019

the thirty-fifth of may

The Tiananmen Square protests, prompted by the death of reformer and voice of liberalisation Hu Yaobang (*1915 – †1989), forced once again to resign in disgrace after a life-long series of purges and recalls, and demanded the government reassess and rehabilitate his reputation and legacy on his death, concluded on this day and into the following day in Beijing three decades ago and precipitated a violent crackdown that resulted in a massacre of protestors and the imposition of martial law, with upwards of ten thousand activists killed or disappeared.
This movement, fomenting the revolutions of the autumn in Eastern Europe but abortive domestically, had originally sought the platform of a visit earlier in May by Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev to normalise Sino-Soviet relations but was not picked up by the international press and failed to garner the desired attention and draw attention to their plight. Though subsequent rallies received heavy coverage, famously the unknown protester called Tank Man who faced down an approaching column once the People’s Army was activated, the movement was suppressed, heavily censored, revised, rewritten and ultimately crushed.