Skip to main content

Something happened 25 years ago today.  Something we should strive to remember as vividly as if it were happening right now.  A bunch of college students occupied a public square to mourn the death of a reformer and protest against government corruption and for freedom of speech and other democratic reforms.  They were joined by laborers and public intellectuals on the square.  Eventually, the square swelled with their ranks, until they were a million strong.  It seemed as though they might even succeed, as even some soldiers sent to disperse them declined to do so.  
Everyone watching around the world was filled with hope and awe.  

And then the government reacted.  With troops and tanks from outside the region, soldiers who didn't know the citizens they were firing upon and crushing under their treads.  Thousands died that day, tens of thousands more arrested.  The world mourned and moved on.  The government scrubbed the square clear of debris and bodies and blood, and removed all adverse references to it from its media. Even today, citizens cannot locate information on the massacre on government-censored search engines, and cannot discuss it directly even over social media without recourse to creative euphemisms.  No commemorations can take place at the Gate of Heavenly Peace.

Today, much has changed.  The country where these brave young people stood, spoke out and gave their lives is now an economic powerhouse, manufacturing half the world's goods and generating new billionaires every year.  But the freedom those young people demanded is still not theirs, and many of those who were arrested are still detained, whether in a labor camp or under house arrest.  Some who escaped are effectively living in exile.  Some of those in prison undoubtedly have provided labor for manufacturing.  Perhaps they even made a few products which found their way to American shelves.  As they say at Walmart, "low prices, every day."

The government of that country has been so effective at suppressing the memory of that day that students at universities there, 85% of them, have no idea where the iconic image of a man standing in front of a column of tanks comes from.  They guess South Korea or Kosovo.  They do not even realize that it is from their own country's history!

We remember, though.  We remember, mourn and celebrate the lives of those who gathered at the Gate of Heavenly Peace, 25 years ago.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (4+ / 0-)

    Comment is free, as they say.

  •  We remember, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nuclear winter solstice

    but I do have to wonder how many American college students today would recognize that image, in spite of our "free" flow of information...

    •  At bare minimum, (0+ / 0-)

      several million.

      Many college students have previously seen that image in their high school world history classes at the very latest. In addition, that image—a frame from a video—appears in classes and required textbooks for

      1. Asian Studies
      2. Political Science
      3. Ethics
      4. Psychology
      5. Journalism
      6. Business
      7. Theatre Arts
      8. Photography

      so there's a good chance they'd recognize it. By the time they leave college, many of those students will also have seen the pictures taken of the massacre's aftermath.

      Then there are the college radicals who choose to join extremist groups like the WWP or the PSL. They recognize the photo and the circumstances surrounding it, but since it doesn't fit their narratives, they condemn the protesters and support the government.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site