1989, twenty-five years ago, was another time and place but driven by people who had freedom beating in their hearts. This post is a continuation of the “Democracy Movements” started yesterday with “Ditches” in the Ukraine. History does, indeed, often repeat itself.
The foreshadowing of Tienanmen Square was ten years of a touch of freedom in China which never had happened before. There was a taste of free speech and more freedom in economics. When a democratic leader died, there was unprecedented mourning which lead to gatherings of students and others in the the seven week occupation in the square. There was no outward reaction from the Chinese government which gave the demonstrators hope and courage. The crowds rose to one million.
The occupiers were demonstrating for some familiar freedoms;
-Freedom of speech
-Restoration of workers’ control over industry
-Freedom of the press
The Chinese government finally had enough of these demonstrations and they began their show of force. . . . sending the tanks into the square. You can just see the Tank Man. Four to six thousand civilians died in Tienanmen Square.
The West weakly protested the extreme show of force with economic sanctions and an arms embargo against the Chinese Government who quickly regained control.
Is it possible he was just a man from Beijing walking home with his shopping bag, who walked alone across a six lane street and decided to take a stand and forever become a democratic hero? Speculation continues today as to whether he escaped to Taiwan, or he was caught and executed, or maybe he just disappeared back into his normal life in Beijing.
Tienanmen Square Tank Man standing for “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness!”