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The Thirtieth Anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre

July 12, 2019 Tiananmen Square

Several days prior to the thirtieth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, the author was sitting in a hospital with a prominent Chinese physician and dear friend discussing the consequences of dehydration following a family member’s e-coli bacteria infection. He related his personal experiences as a young boy in a remote Chinese village when his physician was being persecuted by the Red Guards during the cultural revolution. His family spared what little money they had to buy sugar and salt to save their son from dehydration following a bacterial infection. He drank that mixture with water and re-cycled his urine to rehydrate. He also observed that many of the demonstrators in Tiananmen Square died from dehydration during their hunger strike as well as the free-flowing bullets from their fellow countrymen. Neither one of us realized the anniversary was nearly upon us.  

The New York Times published photos by Jian Liu entitled Photos of the Tiananmen Square Protests Through the Lens of a Student Witness. Jian Liu kept sixty rolls of film hidden for the past thirty years that he photographed over the fifty days of student protests.

The student below is being carried away as he suffers from dehydration following the hunger strike which was facilitated by the meditation evidenced by the student above.

Mr. Liu was motivated to publish his photographs as he realized that his daughter had never heard of the massacre despite her education in China. Out of respect to Mr. Liu’s wishes, we have not published the bloody images of those shot at random by the Chinese police. The image below portrays the enormity of the protest under the watchful eyes of Chairman Mao. The solitude of Tiananmen Square shown in a recently posted blog photo taken four years later illustrates the extent to which all of the blood, bullet holes and army vehicle track marks had been eradicated as has the event itself disappeared from the history of China.

Nicholas Kristof, the bureau chief of The New York Times at that time published his own account entitled When China Massacred Its Own People. His most poignant quote following a late-night phone call to his Beijing apartment was: “The Chinese Army was invading its own capital.” He pedaled his bicycle to Tiananmen Square and reached the site before the army arrived and watched as the army fired their weapons into the crowd where he was standing and even shooting people watching from their apartment balconies. 

Kristof recalls not only the government savagery but also the remarkable courage of most humble citizens trying to evacuate the wounded and the dying. Many stood tall against the onslaught of soldiers but a number of them were killed in doing so. Most may not remember the image shown below but it resonated with those of us watching the events unfold at the time-a symbolic Statue of Liberty named the “Goddess of Democracy.” 

Democracy is suffering in many parts of the world today and even the United States seems to have forgotten the fundamental foundation of this country. Emperor Xi Jinping has erased history but at the same time an educated class of people is evolving that take little interest in blindly following narcissistic demagogues. Civilized people eventually figure out that they have been duped by lies and deception in order to keep them at bay from the inequalities that have been forced upon them. Do not tell anyone, but the emperor has no clothes and that is not “fake news.” Nicholas Kristof closed his article with an appropriate quote from the writer Lu Xuan: “Lies written in ink cannot disguise facts written in blood.“

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