Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
When forgetting is compulsory, remembering can be a lonely business. 33 years ago the world watched in shocked silence as the Chinese Communist regime sent its troops armed with assault rifles and tanks to fire at the demonstrators led by students and workers. The June Fourth Incident is a testament that showed the world the indomitable courage of young Chinese people demanding change and also revealed the self-preservative agenda, repressive censorship, brutal enforcement, and totalitarian identity of the Chinese Communist Party. Tiananmen Square became the focus of large-scale protests, which were crushed by China’s Communist rulers. The events produced one of the most iconic photos of the 20th Century – a lone protester standing in front of a line of army tanks.
Remembering the events of 4th June 1989 has never been allowed in the PRC, where it has been officially censored. Each year around this time, the censorship increases sensitive words, numbers, photographs, symbols, emojis – anything that could be a reference to the event – disappear online. Activists are sent on enforced holidays, online events are shut down, and security tightens around the Beijing square.
Today, the Chennai Centre for China Studies attempts to remember the student-led demonstrators that called for democracy, free speech, and a free press in China were brutally crushed by the military. Which holds pertinence and relevance today due to China’s actions in the geopolitical arena.