I was thinking today about Tiananmen Square.
Today is June 4, 2009, the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. I was reminded of this by, of all things, reddit, which usually mainly serves as a clearinghouse for internet lulz and random cute animals. Yesterday someone posted this Youtube video. Today they’ve created a commemorative Tank Man logo.
Since I was pretty young in ’89, I have only vague memories of this happening at the time, but I remember a plaster statue of the Goddess of Democracy being erected in Portsmouth Square in San Francisco Chinatown. Looking it up, it seems like this must have been the initial model for the bronze statue that stands there now.
In 2007, Rahul and I visited mainland China through a program with his business school. That’s where the photo above (with the Kittyville hat) was taken. It was in March, and Beijing was still very cold–although the sun was shining, the wind was icy, and whipped across the open spaces of the square. All I could think of as we walked through the square, past the soldiers in their uniforms, representing the same government that was in power 20 years ago, was Tank Man.
So I thought I’d post a few interesting links…
Western journalists are currently being obstructed from filming around the square by men carrying giant umbrellas and walking in front of the video cameras. Watch the video–it’s farcical, surreal; would almost be funny if it weren’t so creepy.
Frontline’s Tank Man documentary is available to view online via the PBS website.
The New York Times Lens blog has a couple of really fantastic stories about this. (CNN, on the other hand, has vetoed any coverage whatsoever, in favor of a DEVELOPING STORY!!! about David Carradine’s seedy Bangkok death-by-autoerotic-asphyxiation, and stories with the headlines “It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s your neighbor“, “Gator had personal swimming pool“, “Topless coffee shop burns down; official says it was arson“).
From the NYT:
One photo of Tank Man a minute before the encounter, walking towards the tanks. This is the first time this photo has been released to the public,
And the first-hand accounts of four journalists who captured Tank Man on film 20 years ago. One photographer hid a roll of film in the toilet to save it from the PLA soldiers who burst into his room and confiscated his camera. Another journalist had a French student smuggle out the film in a packet of tea. A third smuggled out the film with the help of a long-haired college student wearing a dirty Rambo t-shirt.
The BBC has some interesting interviews with Chinese students about what they know about Tiananmen.
150,000 people gathered in Hong Kong for a candlelight vigil.