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1989 Tiananmen crackdown: Protests, tanks and official silence

A man blocks a column of army tanks on Changan Avenue east of Tiananmen Square in Beijing in this June 5, 1989 file photo.   | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Tuesday marks the 30th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown in Beijing where Chinese troops fired on peaceful protesters, drawing global condemnation.

Political unrest

April 17: Thousands of people gather in Tiananmen Square to mourn death of Hu Yaobang – leading reformist and anti-graft campaigner

April 18-21: Numbers swell into thousands – calling for greater freedom, democracy and an end to “dictatorship”

April 27: Up to 1,00,000 students march to Tiananmen Square, breaking through police lines

May 15: Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev arrives on state visit. Protesting students force embarrassing cancellation of government welcome in Tiananmen Square

In this May 19, 1989, file photo, Communist Party General Secretary Zhao Ziyang speaks with fasting university students in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, to urge them call off their hunger strike.

In this May 19, 1989, file photo, Communist Party General Secretary Zhao Ziyang speaks with fasting university students in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, to urge them call off their hunger strike.   | Photo Credit: AP

 

May 19: Communist Party Secretary General Zhao Ziyang defends student protests – pleads in vain against using police force

May 20: Paramount leader Deng Xiaoping imposes martial law. Tens of thousands of students set up barricades and stop advancing convoys and troops

May 24: Humiliated authorities order Army to withdraw

In this May 30, 1989 file photo, protesters occupying Beijing's Tiananmen Square work on the statue of the Goddess of Democracy. The makeshift statue, modeled after the Statue of Liberty, was destroyed, and hundreds of people killed, when Chinese soldiers overran the square in the early morning hours of June 4, 1989.

In this May 30, 1989 file photo, protesters occupying Beijing's Tiananmen Square work on the statue of the Goddess of Democracy. The makeshift statue, modeled after the Statue of Liberty, was destroyed, and hundreds of people killed, when Chinese soldiers overran the square in the early morning hours of June 4, 1989.   | Photo Credit: AP

 

May 29-30: A 'Goddess of Democracy' statue is erected, facing portrait of Mao Zedong on Tiananmen Gate

June 2: 10,000 troops move covertly into Great Hall of the People and buildings behind museum

Military assault:

a) June 3, 8.00 p.m.-10.30 p.m.: More than 2,00,000 troops move into Beijing, killing 36 protesters near Muxidi apartments

b) June 4, 1.30 a.m.: Army units enter Tiananmen Square, crushing pockets of resistance en route

c) 4.00 a.m.: 'Goddess of Democracy' statue is toppled by tank

d) 4.30 a.m.: Students retreat – armoured personnel carriers open fire, run down and crush protesters

e) Daybreak: Soldiers fire on relatives of protesters trying to enter square. Gunfire heard throughout the city

In this Saturday, June 3, 1989 file photo, a student pro-democracy protester flashes victory signs to the crowd as People's Liberation Army troops withdraw on the west side of the Great Hall of the People near Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Over seven weeks in 1989, the student-led pro-democracy protests centered on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square became China’s greatest political upheaval since the end of the decade-long Cultural Revolution more than a decade earlier

In this Saturday, June 3, 1989 file photo, a student pro-democracy protester flashes victory signs to the crowd as People's Liberation Army troops withdraw on the west side of the Great Hall of the People near Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Over seven weeks in 1989, the student-led pro-democracy protests centered on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square became China’s greatest political upheaval since the end of the decade-long Cultural Revolution more than a decade earlier   | Photo Credit: AP

 

f) June 5: A lone protester, later called 'tank man', defiantly steps in front of tanks on Chang'an Avenue. Time magazine later named him one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century

Death toll:

Official: 200-300 deaths

Chinese Red Cross: 2,600 deaths

"As a vaccination for the Chinese society, the Tiananmen incident will greatly increase China's immunity against any major political turmoil in the future” - People's Daily


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