“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen,” said Lenin. What happened at the Tiananmen Square in 1989 embodies his words.
The Arab Spring may be fresh in people’s memory, refreshed more recently with the unrest and protests in Turkey. However, what may never be forgotten, and no revolution can come close to, is what happened at the Tiananmen Square in 1989.
The stance of the people and that they can neither be squashed nor dissuaded by any power or strength has been engrained in history for all times to come.
The image of the brave (driven by desperation?) man above has immortalized the day forever.
Here’s a video that shows the power of one man!
On June 3 and June 4, 1989, China's leaders ordered troops to open fire on demonstrators and sent in tanks to crush a student-led campaign movement, killing hundreds.
People were shot and run over by tanks. Corpses littered Beijing's main boulevard, Chang An, with blood and torn limbs visible in several sections of the area outside the Forbidden City.
One person indeed can be stronger than all the forces of brutality put together! And this is what happens when the masses learn of their strength!
The whole affair is still taboo in China. More than two decades on, some young people don't even know the significance of the day the Chinese police ended a massive student protest, killing hundreds, perhaps thousands of young people. China has censored any mention of the anniversary on social media web sites.
However, thousands of protestors gathered in a commemorative vigil Hong Kong.
Activists wearing masks of China's jailed Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo held candles during a night vigil at Liberty Square in Taipei June 4, 2013. Hundreds of students wore masks calling for China to release Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, a rebel involved in the 1989 protests who has been serving an 11-year sentence.
In Hong Kong, memorials are held around the anniversary every year to honor the victims.
Despite the oppression of the regime, China has come a long way since June 1989. It struggles with thousands of protests a year - over everything from corruption to pollution. But none have come close to becoming a national movement that could threaten the party's rule.
A major change since 1989 has been the increasing importance of the Internet and social media in China. Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, has indeed altered the political landscape.
But China's government has taken action to neuter the power of social media, by rolling out more sophisticated censorship tools that filter online search results on Weibo instead of banning them. What’s worse is that instead of showing the search terms as censored, it produces a list of politically acceptable results.
As the author ? Arundhati Roy, aptly puts it, “Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness – and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe.
The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling – their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability.
Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them.”
Then there is the internet, more specifically social media. In the day of Facebook, Wikipedia, Wikileaks, Twitter, Instagram etc, not much can be kept under wraps and the day of gagging the man in the town center are long gone!
In Arab countries, many activists who played crucial roles in the Arab Spring used social networking as a key tool in expressing their thoughts concerning unjust acts committed by the government.
It not only gave them the power to overthrow unwanted powers, but also helped others become aware of the situation.
Social networks have broken the psychological barrier of fear by helping many to connect and share information.
Nearly quarter of a century later people, all the way from Tunisia to Turkey, who had been conditioned to believe they cannot make a difference, have become aware of the power they hold and raised their voices.
The outcome in the long run can be debatable but the force which the people became and how they raised their voice and brought the change has charged the socio-political environment for the coming decades at least.
From that lone, unnamed brave man in China standing in front of a line of tanks to Mohammad Bouazizi of Tunisia to the woman so bravely standing against police brutality in Turkey less than a week ago people’s faith in their might has come a long way and it is not likely about to decline.
“But I don't shut up and I don't die.
and fight, maddening
those who rule my country.
For if I live
and if I fight
I contribute to the dawn.”
Otto René Castillo