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The Unforgettable Tragedy: Tiananmen Square Massacre and China’s Erasure Campaign

The Unforgettable Tragedy: Tiananmen Square Massacre and China’s Erasure Campaign

Thirty-five years ago, the heart of Beijing witnessed an event that would forever mark a dark chapter in China’s history—the Tiananmen Square Massacre. On June 4, 1989, thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators, primarily students, gathered peacefully in Tiananmen Square, calling for freedom, accountability, and an end to government corruption. The Chinese government’s response was brutal and unyielding, leading to one of the most heinous crackdowns on peaceful protestors the world has ever seen. Today, the Chinese government continues to attempt to erase the memory of this massacre, employing various strategies to suppress any discussion or commemoration of the event.

The Massacre

In the weeks leading up to the massacre, Beijing’s Tiananmen Square was filled with hopeful voices demanding democratic reforms. These gatherings reached a climax in late May 1989, prompting the Chinese government to declare martial law. On June 3 and 4, the People’s Liberation Army was deployed to the streets of Beijing. Soldiers, backed by tanks and armored vehicles, opened fire on unarmed protestors and bystanders, killing and injuring untold numbers. The exact death toll remains unknown, but estimates range from hundreds to possibly thousands. In the aftermath, the government launched a nationwide crackdown, arresting thousands on charges such as arson and disrupting social order.

Erasing the Memory

Since the massacre, the Chinese government has been relentless in its efforts to bury the events of June 4, 1989. They have never accepted responsibility or held any officials accountable for the killings. The government has also refused to investigate the events or release data on those who were killed, injured, disappeared, or imprisoned. Instead, they have systematically censored any mention of the massacre, both online and offline, ensuring that younger generations grow up unaware of this pivotal moment in their nation’s history.

In the lead-up to the 35th anniversary, the Chinese authorities intensified their efforts to stifle remembrance. Individuals who attempted to honor the victims, like Xu Guang, a former student leader, were imprisoned on charges such as “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” Xu Guang’s story is a grim reminder of the severe penalties for those who dare to speak out. Tortured and mistreated in detention, Xu’s ordeal highlights the brutal lengths to which the government will go to silence dissent.

Hong Kong: A New Battleground

The suppression of memory extends beyond mainland China, reaching into Hong Kong. Once a bastion of free speech and annual vigils commemorating the Tiananmen Massacre, Hong Kong has seen its freedoms erode under the imposition of draconian laws. On May 28 and 29, 2024, Hong Kong police arrested several individuals, including lawyer-activist Chow Hang-tung and her mother, for posts related to the massacre’s anniversary. Chow, a prominent figure in organizing Tiananmen vigils, now faces severe penalties under the new National Security Law. The law punishes peaceful speech and civil society activism with heavy prison sentences, reflecting Beijing’s tightening grip on the city.

International Silence and Complicity

The international response to the Tiananmen Massacre and subsequent human rights abuses in China has been disappointingly muted. Some sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States have weakened over time, and there has been a lack of sustained and coordinated pressure on Beijing. This tepid response has emboldened the Chinese government to continue its human rights violations, not just domestically but globally. From crimes against humanity in Xinjiang to the suppression of freedoms in Hong Kong and the persecution of human rights defenders, Beijing’s abuses are increasingly unchecked.

Calls for Justice

Despite the Chinese government’s attempts to erase history, the flames of remembrance and the call for justice continue to burn. Groups like Tiananmen Mothers, composed of relatives of massacre victims, persist in their demands for accountability. They urge the government to publish the names of those who died, offer compensation to victims’ families, and hold responsible officials legally accountable. These demands, however, fall on deaf ears as the Chinese government remains resolute in its denial and suppression.

As we mark the 35th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, it is crucial for the international community to renew efforts to hold the Chinese government accountable. Supporting calls from UN human rights experts and publicly commemorating the anniversary can help keep the memory of the massacre alive and highlight the ongoing struggle for human rights in China.

China would be much better off if they accepted responsibility for this and implemented reparations, but this is not their way. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) can do no wrong, they will force the people to accept this as a necessary event, and will try to get the rest of the world to forget the utter brutality of it. This is why free countries oppose China.

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  1. Ron C

    There is doubt in my mind, that Tiananmen Square massacre is what the democrat party are wishing on the Trump supporters, and they are bringing in millions of illegal fighting aged invaders to do it for them! As they call for the illegal invaders to take government jobs instead of the citizens!

    • Tom

      Actually this Independent / Unaffiliated voter thinks you have it totally backwards! Here is why below:

      It is Trump that wants to be dictator, as he said so! It is Trump who wants to arrest all involved in his felony conviction. It is Trump that has stated he wants retribution on his political enemies. It is Trump who is giving coded signals to his Proud Boys buddies to be ready for violence. It is Trump who said he thinks we should abandon our US Constitution. It is Trump who feels he cannot be held accountable and that if he is, then it is a rigged system. It is Trump to has stated over and over again that the system is rigged. It is Trump who said he will not accept the results of the 2024 election unless he wins! It is Trump who has committed crimes that he is finally been held account able for. It is Trump who stole highly classified documents and obstructed justice when he moved them to a plane to stop the FBI search and subvert a legal search warrant and obstruct justice. It is Trump who stated that Dems were trying to assassinate him at Mara-largo when he was not even there when the search warrant was issued. It is Trump who violated a gag order ten times and has threatened jurors, judges, and prosecutors. It is Trump that has fed his minions the great lie that the election was stolen. It was Trump who hatched the fake electors scheme that was stopped by Pense. It is Trump that verbalized that his VP should be hung!!! It is Trump who has used the system to create countless delays in his criminal cases and wants immunity for everything he has ever done.

      Democrats have actually been following the system and making sure they have evidence and following the rule of law that the GOP tried to subvert when they ignored America’s business to travel from Congress to NY to protest Trump’s trial.

      The GOP has abandoned rule of law and now embraces rule of Trump. The GOP is no longer the party of thinkers and negotiators, they are the party of power and investigations!

  2. Bobm

    I’ve been cursed with a memory, which, if it hasn’t failed me, recalls these protests were occurring in the provinces long before Tiananmen. Those protests were handled quickly and silently by the provincial governors in ways that only made news when the “Bodies” exhibits came to the U.S. shores.
    Tiananmen was different because it was not only on international news, but, more importantly, right outside the Politburo’s window. (To this day I wonder what became of the guy with the shopping bags……)
    But, for the first time in their lives, those – oh, hell, let’s call them “ruling elites” were scared for themselves.

    Kind of like the Portland/NY/George Floyd/etc riots v. January 6th.

    By the way, we’d do well to study the methods used by the U.S.S.R. in the Cold War and how the West won it. THere are a ton of parallels there too…….Vietnam protests…….shortages……..etc……etc.

    Those who do not study history……….

  3. Tom

    The article is basically correct. From my visits to China, it seems to me that the Chinese government really does not care what the world or USA think about it. They feel they are economically in the driver’s seat. And they are because of the US national debt and the West’s general desire for cheap products. If the USA and West were serious about human rights, they would ban Chinese products in their countries. This is the only way to send a serious signal to the Chinese government because they are obsessed with money. And the last thing they need is for their economy to collapse any more than it already has from the EverGrande and Market Garden real estate financial disasters.

    The picture is from the Frontline PBS movie, “Tankman”. You can watch the full movie here at The Chinese government has not been successful in wiping this movie from the internet.

    • Tom

      And by the way, Deng Xiao Ping ordered the military, this was known. This is what my close Chinese friends tell me. The Chinese government will tell you they do not know the identity of Tankman, the lone protester standing in front of the tanks. I do not believe them.

  4. Tom

    If you want this type of government in the USA, its easy. Just do not care about democracy and vote for Trump. He admires the Chinese and North Korean, and Soviet leaders that do this sort of thing. He wants to head us in this direction as he said, “I want to be dictator for a day.” Once he tastes the power, he will want to be dictator for four years – count on it. He wants retribution on his enemies and political rivals starting with those involved in his recent felony conviction.

    Vote Trump and help our orange haired hero turn us into China-West!!! Donate to Trump, he needs you to pay his legal bills because he is doing it all for you, not himself!! Join Donald’s MAGA army!!! LOL

    Again, The picture is from the Frontline PBS movie, “Tankman”. You can watch the full movie here at The Chinese government has not been successful in wiping this movie from the internet.

  5. Tom

    MAGA = Make America Governance Autocratic!!! Vote Trump!

    • Harold blankenship

      I plan to. And I wear my MAGA cap everywhere. Looks good on my big head

  6. Ron

    China is not being held responsible for the virus that they created in their Wuhan Lab that killed millions of people around the world!

    Boycott Chins now!


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