In April 1989 a pro-democratic movement was provoked by the death of Hu Yaobang. This man was an emblematic figure of the liberal communist party. People from across China gathered in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to mourn this death and also shared their frustrations about the slow pace of promised reform. The choice of place is symbolic because on the one hand Tiananmen Square is located near all-important places of communism power, on the other hand Tiananmen means “gate of heavenly peace”. Then, the largest nonviolent political protest in China’s history began.
In fact, a million demonstrators joined the students. There were no confrontations, the million of demonstrators shouted democratic slogans and denounced corruption of politic power in festive atmosphere.
From May, the movement grew. The crowd was huge; we talk about more than 400 000 people. Demonstrations spread in Beijing, and others are organized in Shanghai or Canton.
On may 13th, more than 100 students begin a hunger strike to defend their ideas in Tiananmen Square. The number increases to several thousand over the next few days.
The May 19th is a real change, the government decided to react. A gathering of 1.2 million people pushed the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (Zhao Ziyang) to appears at the rally and plead for an end of hunger strike and end of demonstrations.
“I say you only one thing. If you stop hunger strike, the government will not take advantage of it to end the dialogue, certainly not!”
Then the martial law was decreed. The martial law is the law that authorizes the recourse of the army force in some situations.
In the wake of this law, soldiers tried to evacuate the Tiananmen place, but they preferred to stop before using violent acts.
It’s important to note that on June 2nd, China prohibited reporters from photographing and videotaping any of the demonstrations or Chinese troops.
Demonstrations took a turning point overnight on 3 to 4 June. In fact, the government sent tens of thousand of armed troops and hundreds of army tanks to enforce martial law and clear the streets of demonstrators. Government wanted to restore order in the Capital.
Students were armed with Molotov cocktails and they fought against army. Throughout the day, Chinese troops fired on civilians, students and lookers. It was a real massacre. The death poll of this massacre was never known.