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Demonstrations at Tiananmen Square

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Hu Yaobing

image of Hu Yaobing

crowd demonstrating

It is usually called the Tiananmen Square Massacre. For seven weeks in the revolutionary year of 1989, Chinese students and citizens took over Tiananmen Square in Beijing, calling for reforms and greater freedom. It seemed for a while that revolution was coming to China. But by the time it was over there had been a massive crackdown by the government and thousands of demonstrators had been killed. The government was once again firmly in control.

It began on April 15, 1989. Hu Yaobing, a Chinese leader who had been fairly tolerant of student demonstrations in 1986, died. Students in Beijing mourned his passing by meeting in Tiananmen Square and voicing their grievances.

On April 26, The Communist Party newspaper People's Daily in an editorial accused "an extremely small number of people with ulterior purposes"of inciting the students to unrest in order to overthrow the Communist government. There were warnings to students that force might be used.

 

The next day students from more than 40 universities demonstrated in Tiananmen Square to protest the editorial. They were joined by thousands of citizens. The square was occupied by pro-democracy demonstrators until June 4.

On May 13, 3,000 students began a hunger strike.

student leaders

student leaders

Part of the Tiananmen Square exhibit

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