This June marks the 27th anniversary of the terror that the Chinese Communist Party imposed upon its innocent citizens in Tiananmen Square, in the heart of Beijing, China.
Fed up with the Chinese government’s overwhelming corruption, students began massive demonstrations throughout the spring of 1989. They called for an end to corruption, for Rule of Law, and for democratic reform.
By late May that year, as many as one million protesters (students as well as some in the general public) marched in Beijing. However, the peaceful demonstrations came to an abrupt, bloody hault.
On the night of June 3 and morning of June 4, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) stormed into Tiananmen Square, mercilessly opening fire on the unarmed civilians and students. Tanks rolled through, stampeding the innocent crowd, crushing them along with their dreams of a democratic China.
Because any evidence of the massacre was soon destroyed by the government, an exact number of lost lives is not known, though it is estimated to be anywhere from several hundred to a staggering 3,000.
Approximately 1,600 protesters were detained in connection to the demonstrations, and 27 years later, China is set to free the last remaining man.
Miao Deshun, who was 25 at the time of his arrest, was convicted of throwing a basket at a burning PLA tank that dreadful night. This slight act landed Miao a death sentence. This was later converted to a life-sentence in prison in 1991. Miao, who is a native of Hebei province near Beijing, reportedly suffers from schizophrenia and Hepatitis B, and has apparently not have had any contact with the outside world for many years.
According to a report, Miao will be released from Yangqing prison in Beijing on October 15, upon being granted an 11-month reduction of his sentence back in March.
The Dui Hua Foundation, which issued the report, is a San Francisco-based non-profit humanitarian organization. “We bring clemency and better treatment to at-risk detainees through promotion of universally recognized human rights in well-informed, mutually respectful dialogue with China,” reads the organization’s mission statement.
In a public statement, executive director of the foundation John Kamm said, “We welcome this news, and express the hope that he will receive the care he needs to resume a normal life after spending more than half of it behind bars.”
Still to this day, the Chinese government continues its great efforts to hide the past. In Mainland China, no one mentions ‘Tiananmen Square’. Those born after the massacre never learned about it in school, and those who were living at the time don’t dare talk about it. There is still living fear of arrest, or even death. The internet is a black hole; if I were to search for the terms ‘Tiananmen,’ ‘Tank man,’ or even ‘June 4th’, I would come up empty. It is as if that day never happened – and that is precisely what China wants.
Organizations like Dui Hua are crucial in combating human rights violations in China. Activists and ordinary people alike must continue the fight for peace and democracy. The world must not forget the grisly events of June 4, 1989.