Tuesday, June 4, 2013

To the heroes of Tiananmen Square - 06/04/1989. You are remembered.


(All words in italics - italics - are defined below the reading passage.)

Above is the iconic photo of the man who tried to stop the Chinese tanks from driving into Tiananmen Square, where students were protesting the authoritarian nature of the Chinese government.

The current Chinese government will not even allow its citizens to obtain information about this massacre on the internet: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/06/04/china-bans-tiananmen-square-searches-in-hopes-to-ease-tensions/?test=latestnews

Indeed, Chinese people are even prevented from viewing blogs created through the service I am using.

In 1989 thousands of Chinese young people gathered into Tiananmen Square in Beijing to protest for democracy.  They refused to leave.  They stayed for several weeks. The government then sent in tanks and soldiers who opened fire on the students.  To this day nobody is really sure how many students were killed.  It is estimated that between 1,000 and 3,000 were killed.



Afterwards the Chinese government went on a witch-hunt, tracking down students who had been organizers of the demonstration.  Many were arrested before they could escape to freedom in the USA or other sympathetic countries.

Here is the Statue of Liberty the students built. Behind the statue is the image of Mao, one of the worst dictators and mass-murderers of the 20th Century.



I was very young when this happened, but I watched the TV news each night during these protests. When the Chinese government cracked down on these protesters, I, like most of the world, was devastated.


iconic - an iconic photo is a very famous photo.  It's usually one of the photos you think about when you think about a news story.  It is one of the most famous photos dealing with a particular news event.

to protest - to speak out against. A protest is often when a group of people get together to speak out against a government or business policy.

authoritarian - not democratic.  An authoritarian  government is not voted into power by the people.  They tend to follow rules they, themselves, created.

a massacre - (pronounced: MASS uh kur) this is when a large group of people is killed.  usually a massacre means that you have unarmed people (people without weapons) who are killed by soldiers or police.

to open fire on - to shoot at.

a witch-hunt - this is when the government is very angry and tries to gather as many people to be punished as possible.  The term witch-hunt comes from the practice, during the Middle Ages, of blaming bad social outcomes on witches and then randomly arresting people who could be executed (killed) as a punishment to deter (scare) others from becoming 'witches."

to track someone down - to take extra measures to find a person who might not be easy to find. This expression comes from hunting. If you go hunting, you might look for animal 'tracks' or foot/paw prints.  You might then track the animal down (follow it until you catch it.

sympathetic countries - countries that shared the values of the students.

a dictator - someone who holds absolute power.  An authoritarian leader.

a mass murderer - someone who has killed large numbers of people.  Nobody is really sure how many Chinese people died because of Mao, but millions and millions suffered and died because of him.

to crack down on - to take very forceful action against a group in order to stop that group from doing something.

devastated - to be extremely shocked and depressed.

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Links:
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