Tianamen Square Twenty Years Later: the Memory Lives for Those Who Care

  Previous  |  Next  

Tuesday June 02, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

Tomorrow we commemorate the massacre at Tiananmen Square, a massacre that many pretend never happened and others wish would go away so they could go on making money off the tainted goods of China. For those who live in the democratic nation of Taiwan, it is particularly poignant because the country to our west has designs on our economy and our nation. Similarly as there are those who wish that Tiananmen Square would go away, so there are those that wish the 23 million people of Taiwan's wish to preserve their democratic nation would go away. Such people also want only to go on making money with China.

There are many articles commemorating this event, I reference below an excerpt from the banned novelist Ma Jian in the Guardian; I saw it on the website of a friend Richard Berger, www.pekingduck.org The link is www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jun/02/tianamen-square-protests-1989-china

"It happened right here," he told me, "just by these white railings. A tank charged down Changan Avenue, and sprayed tear gas into the air. There was a big crowd of us. We were coughing and choking. We rushed on to the pavement, and I was squashed back against these railings. A girl dropped to her knees. I was grasping the railings with one hand to stop myself falling and with the other I offered her a handkerchief and told her to use it as a mask. Just as I was leaning over to hand it to her, another tank roared up and careered into us. Thirteen people were crushed to death but I only lost my arm. The tank commander knew exactly what he was doing." He stared down at the patch of asphalt at his feet and then glanced nervously at the police vans parked on the other side of the road. It was rush hour; cars and taxis were streaming past us.

What a terrifying experience, I said, gripping the white railings.

"Yes, it was," he replied quite calmly. "But I wasn't truly afraid until I saw Deng Xiaoping on television, telling the martial law troops: Foreigners say that we opened fire, and that I admit, but to claim that army tanks drove over unarmed citizens, that is a disgraceful slur. My scalp tightened. I was a living witness to the truth. What if one day they came to get me? "For two years I never dared go out at night, I never spoke about what happened. Policemen came to interrogate me almost every day, but none of us ever mentioned the tanks. Every anniversary of 4 June, the police would come to my house with pillows and mattresses and sleep on my bedroom floor. Just to stop me speaking to foreign journalists."