Guiru Zhang of Mason recently wrote in to the Cincinnati Enquirer, recalling his memories of living in Beijing during the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre.
He wrote in honor of the 26th anniversary of the massacre, which was part of the Chinese government’s crackdown of the pro-democracy movement of the late 1980s. For weeks in spring 1989, demonstrators, mostly students, protested in the square for freedom of speech, freedom of the press and government accountability, among other democratic concepts. On June 4, 1989, troops advanced on the square and opened fire. Estimates of the death toll range from China’s official count of 246 to 2,600. Click here for more on the history of the massacre.
USA Today reports that roughly 100,000 people participated in a remembrance vigil in Hong Kong last Thursday, June 4.
Zhang remembers studying at home on that morning in 1989, his junior high school having closed in response to the martial law intended to stop the protests at Tiananmen Square. At 10 a.m., he says, he heard gunshots a few blocks away in the direction of his younger brother’s grade school, which was still open. He describes how he crouched on his balcony to avoid stray bullets and watched anxiously for a sign of his brother. Half an hour later, his brother and two friends arrived, panting, at their house.
Zhang says memories of that day and knowledge of what has happened after have inspired him to take a strong stance in favor of human rights. He identifies harassment, imprisonment, torture and organ harvesting in China as unacceptable practices that continue on into the present.
“As long as I still have a voice,” Zhang wrote, “I will keep fighting for human rights that have been long overdue for the Chinese people.”
China does not recognize the massive death toll of the massacre and tightened security in the weeks leading up to the anniversary. The White House issued a statement last week supporting “the basic freedoms the protestors at Tiananmen Square sought” and called for China to account for the violence of the massacre. Click here to learn more about responses to this year’s anniversary.
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