The Beijing Spring, 1989

The Beijing Spring, 1989

The climax of China’s spring 1989 student protest movement is well known, at least outside of China. Troops acting to clear Tiananmen Square of protesters and enforce martial law succeeded in their charge, firing automatic assault weapons on unarmed citizens and sometimes wildly into neighboring buildings. People were crushed under the tracks of armored personnel carriers as they moved in to smash the statue of the “Goddess of Democracy” that had come almost overnight to symbolize the movement. Some students tried nonviolent protest tactics, sitting in before the troops. They were shot. Eyewitness reports emphasized the frenzied activity of the soldiers, their excessive and sometimes almost aimless violence. But though some may have run amok, there is no doubt that the overall attack was consciously planned.

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Lima