On June 4, 1989, Chinese army troops stormed Tiananmen Square in Beijing in response to student protests in support of democracy. Find out five things you didn’t know about the Tiananmen Square Massacre.
It Wasn’t The Only Protest The demonstrations in Tiananmen Square were not the only pro-democracy protests in the country at the time. They occurred in hundreds of cities, including Shanghai, Chengdu, and Nanjing. And to be sure, it wasn’t the first time protesters had filled the Square in Beijing, a space for public protest. More than a decade earlier, in what became known as the Tiananmen Incident, a similar but smaller-scale crackdown on protesters spawned outrage and led to a reshuffling of the nation’s top leadership.
The Identity of "Tank Man" Is Still Unknown The most famous photo to come out of the Tiananmen Square Massacre was taken the day after the massacre when a lone man stopped a tank column by standing in front of them. The man - now known as "tank man" - was uninjured and led quickly to safety by other protesters and was lost in the crowd.Only rumors of his identity persist, and when Chinese leader Jiang Zermin was asked a year later if he know what had happened to the young man, he responded: “I think never killed.”
Information About the Massacre Is Still Censored The massacre occurred 31 years ago, and the death toll is estimated to have ranged from hundreds of people up to 10,000, but information about the protests is highly censored within China. The date, the term “Tiananmen Square,” related phrases and words cannot be searched on the internet inside the People's Republic. However, many photographs and accounts of the incident are available online from other countries despite the Chinese effort to censor the event.
The Battle Was One-Sided and Became a Bloodbath On June 4, thousands of troops and 50 trucks entered the Tiananmen Square area and fired into the crowds. Some of the protesters stayed their ground, throwing Molotov cocktails and rocks, but they were no match for the Chinese military. The battle continued through the morning hours, leaving the area littered with bodies of protesters and some soldiers.
"The Goddess of Democracy" Was Crushed
A few days before the massacre, a giant statue made of plaster and Styrofoam was erected by protesters in the square and named the “Goddess of Democracy.” Protestors believed that 30-foot statue would embarrass the authorities and be difficult to remove. When troops entered Tiananmen Square, the statue was crushed by tanks.