Thursday, June 4, 2009

Darkness and Light - 20 years since Tiananmen Square

Since few others marking this day, I will.

The Tiananmen protests started in April 1989, when students began calling for greater democracy and anti-corruption measures. After weeks of protests, which saw the square packed with up to 1 million people, troops and tanks moved in on the night of 3-4 June 1989. An unknown number of people were killed in the crackdown. Estimates range from 0 - 5000. For what it's worth, the Chinese Government acknowledges 241 dead and 7000 injured. Thousands more were arrested throughout the country. Some are still held, others haven't been seen since. Among the "disappeared" is the unknown man in the photo above. It is known he was arrested, but the Chinese government has not been able to "find" him in response to international pressure.

The last official statement from the PRC government about the "Tank Man" came from Jiang Zemin in a 1990 interview with Barbara Walters. When asked about the whereabouts of the "Tank Man", Jiang responded that the young man was "I think never killed".

Kudos to the BBC - they have a story about the official Chinese reaction to the anniversary. And a video of a reporter trying to enter the square:

These brave students may well have been part of the cause of the great events of 1989 - the fall of the Berlin Wall being the most memorable. They were the last great uprising against communism to be ruthlessly suppressed, the ones that came after succeeded, and the world is a better place for their courage.

They deserve to be remembered together with The Hungarians in 1956, and the Czechs in 1968.

We must remember that Communism is not just another political system, it has objectively measurable, real effects on the lives of the people oppressed by it. The ultimate ends are the destruction of the human soul, both body and spirit, grinding pervasive poverty, darkness and death.

This darkness is not just spiritual, but literal as this composite satellite image of the nighttime Earth shows:

Japan is the string of lights from bottom center to top right, surrounded by the dark of the ocean - Japan is a thriving democracy, and is an island.

South Korea is center left, surrounded by darkness too - South Korea is a thriving democracy. South Korea is not an island.

The darkness to the north is North Korea - the "purest" communist nation on Earth. The scattered "Islands" north of that are Communist China.

No matter how much we talk and trade with them, communists are evil. We must never forget that. And we must never forget those who died 20 years ago today.