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REQUIEM

Below are the two final essays to be posted on Allegiance and Duty Betrayed. The first one is written by a friend -- screen name 'Euro-American Scum' -- who, over the past four years, has been the most faithful essayist here. He has written about everything from his pilgrimage to Normandy in 2004 to take part in the 60th–year commemoration of the invasion, to his memories of his tour in Vietnam. His dedication to America’s founding principles ... and those who have sacrificed to preserve them over the past 200+ years ... is unequaled. Thank you, E-A-S. It has been a privilege to include your writing here, and it is a privilege to call you my friend.

The second essay is my own farewell. And with it I thank all of the many regular visitors, and those who may have only dropped in occasionally, for coming here. I hope you learned something. I hope a seed or two was planted. But, even if not, I thank you for stopping by ... 25 March, 2010

3/27/2008

The Unfinished Business of 4 June, 1989


The protests that seem to be building around the world over Tibet in the run up to the Olympics should also be a reminder of the wider context of the Chinese human rights record.

Few better examples exist than when the "People's Liberation Army" cleared Tiananmen Square of pro-democracy demonstrators in June 1989 using the most brutal of means. The death toll of this exercise ranges in estimate from several hundred to two or three thousand.

Below is a slide show of photos from those protests and the clamp down on June 4th 1989 set to the music of John Williams' "Hymn to the Fallen".

It starts with a sense of hope as the mainly student protestors gather in the square. A professor character is to be seen with a megaphone. Various students speak out publicly for the first time. The iconic "unknown rebel" briefly stops a column of tanks holding nothing more than two carrier bags.

Then the mood darkens as the early stand offs with the military begin. Eventually the one sided battle starts with students fighting bravely but against tanks and bullets with little hope of success.

It ends with tragic scenes of the aftermath and the plea that this should never be forgotten.

Despite the world's corporations falling over themselves to become established in this emerging superpower, recent events leave me with a sense that some business remains unfinished in China.

While the economy goes from strenth to strength the ordinary Chinese are politically controlled almost the same as ever. Surely eventually this disconnect may come to the surface and require addressing ? There has been no reckoning with the past by China and therefore it cannot ultimately move on until this happens.

This moving compilation by a youtube user (Alonsolegend) is a reminder that human rights concerns in China are about so much more than Tibet and more specifically about a group of students who dared to stand up for freedom in the early summer of 1989, who failed so tragically but who freedom loving people everywhere should never forget.


To the Heroes of Tiananmen

(The music does add to this short film so watching with the sound on is recommended. It is 6 minutes long but I can recommend watching it all).

by Luis
(contributing team member of Allegiance and Duty Betrayed)

24 comments:

lori_gmeiner said...

Thank you, Luis.

john galt said...

We're prostituting ourselves to this oppressive regime and looking the other way when they commit atrocities because we need them to keep our economy afloat.

Dawnsearlylight said...

Thank you for this reminder Luis. We all tend to get caught up in our own problems and don't realize just how easy we have it. Our government refuses to take a real stand because they have too much to lose. It kind of makes me ashamed to be an American.

all_good_men said...

What's the big deal? According to the official story, no one died in Tiananmen Square. A few soldiers were hurt by gangs of roaming thugs and terrorists.

Anonymous said...

Despite the world's corporations falling over themselves to become established in this emerging superpower, recent events leave me with a sense that some business remains unfinished in China.

You can say that again.

Anonymous said...

There have been so many uprisings like the one that happened in Tiananmen Square. They happen all over the world. And usually the leaders of the free world tend to look the other way while freedom fighters are slaughtered. Lip service doesn't mean much when people from oppressed countries take you up on it and then they're left standing there defenseless.

Luis said...

Thank you all for your comments.

By all accounts there was a significant death toll in Tiananmen Square. The Chinese Red Cross estimated 2,000- 3,000 dead. Certainly it is a sad fact that people did die there in a failed bid for freedom. The news reports from the time show some of the dead before the authorities managed a clean up.

Probably far worse was the oppression in the years that followed.

Anonymous- I recognise what you are saying about the limitations of lip service and the defenselessness of those that make a stand.

There is no easy solution to this and China is not alone in denying freedom to its citizens.

However China has a greater significance than other oppressive nations due to its size, its population and its emerging superpower status.

John Galt- you summarise the west's basic economic dependency on China very clearly.

I fear nothing will change too quickly in China but out of respect for the memory of those who tried and failed for freedom we should not completely forget our principles in order to be "cordial" with the Chinese government.

When our Presidents and Prime Ministers go to Beijing for the Olympics this summer, let us remember the many Chinese who did not live to see this spectacle due to the actions of their government.

trustbutverify said...

There have been so many uprisings like the one that happened in Tiananmen Square. They happen all over the world. And usually the leaders of the free world tend to look the other way while freedom fighters are slaughtered. Lip service doesn't mean much when people from oppressed countries take you up on it and then they're left standing there defenseless.

The Contras in Nicaragua are an example of that sad fact. Here were a people willing to put life and limb on the line and all they wanted was weapons and material supplies from the U.S. and our disgusting Congress withheld it from them. I will never forget those sorry times!

Thanks for the column, Luis and for keeping this issue in front of us.

cw-patriot said...

Luis, thank you for bringing this very powerful video to our attention. It brought tears for me, and for others, I'm sure.

I agree with some of the posters here that, these days, so many of the leaders of the free world -- especially the U.S. Congress -- simply pay lipservice to the concept of freedom. They are unwilling to lift a finger to help the oppressed of the world, even when those people are willing to sacrifice their own blood in order to claim their God-given liberties.

A year or two ago, Rick and I were watching 'Jeopardy' (a very popular quiz show here in America). This particular week was 'celebrity week' in which all of the contestants were celebrities of some sort.

One of the contestants was Maria Bartiromo, a very beautiful, very famous business news anchor, reporter, and interviewer for CNBC television.

From Wikipedia:

Bartiromo is also a columnist and writer for several business and general interest magazines and the author of the book 'Use the News: How to Separate the Noise from the Investment Nuggets and Make Money in Any Economy'. She has won awards including the Union League of Philadelphia’s Lincoln Statue Award (2004) and the Coalition of Italian-American Associations' Excellence in Broadcast Journalism Award (1997) and was nominated in 2002 for a Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism for a series covering the widows of September 11.

One of Ms. Bartiromo's questions on Jeopardy was 'In what country did a 1989 massacre of protestors occur in Tiananmen Square?'

She had a very long time to contemplate her answer, and she came up empty. She did not know.

I have never looked at her the same since.

~ joanie

Anonymous said...

The Bartiromo thing is un-friggin-believable.

SidBreem said...

I'll never forget when Clinton visited China in the late 90's, and attended a formal welcoming ceremony in Tiananmen Square.

Many people said he should have asked to be met elsewhere, or that cameras should have been arranged so that the recognizable parts of the square weren't in the photos. But the Chinese demanded that they have the ceremony there and that the square be shown worldwide, and the Clinton administration didn't argue.

That mirrors the U.S. behavior ever since.

Anonymous said...

Remember Tiananmen!

cheryl gereau said...

I fear nothing will change too quickly in China but out of respect for the memory of those who tried and failed for freedom we should not completely forget our principles in order to be "cordial" with the Chinese government.

That is the bottom line in all of this. How can a society so focused on freedom seek "cordiality" with such a repressive regime? There are many answer to that question- none of them palatable.

kathymlynczak said...

Anyone who clicks that link and watches those 6 minutes without crying isn't human.

Luis said...

Joanie, I agree that the video is incredibly moving.

The sacrifice was enormous and the fact it ended in "failure" all the more tragic. I put failure in quotes as I cannot see it as real failure. The events of Tiananmen sowed seeds in China even if they take a hundred years to germinate.

Of course 1989 was a very special year as months after Tiananmen people in Eastern Europe rose up against oppression, the Berlin Wall collapsed and history changed. It is a shame freedom did not come to China yet.

Maria Bartiromo's fame extends this side of the Atlantic as it is easy to get CNBC on cable here. I am well aware of her and astonished about what you write of her lack of awareness on this subject.

It will be a sorry compromise of principles when our respective President and Prime Minister attend the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Beijing this August.

No doubt the Chinese Government will take full advantage of the PR opportunties the Games offer.

Luis said...

See this link for a contemporary BBC news report of events in Tiananmen Square:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=XJBnHMpHGRY&feature=related

daveburkett said...

Luis, that link really makes the savagery real. Government forces firing indiscriminantly into unarmed civilian crowds. People shot while sitting in their homes. It's more chilling than can be described in words. I hope everyone who reads here will watch it. We need to. The people in the video were yelling "Tell the world!" Is the world listening?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link Luis. It's a very powerful video that every person living in a free country should see. We so take our freedoms for granted even to the point of letting them be taken away without so much as a fight.

marcus aurelius said...

The slide show and video are both very moving. We try to forget such events but we do so at our own peril.

Luis said...

Thank you all for your comments.

I hope we start to hear more about the situation for people in China- although I am not holding my breath.

Dave Burkett- I agree that there is something poignant about the protestors in 1989 shouting "tell the world". Essentially the regime is the same one today as in 1989 but what are we doing ? Trading more than ever and going to the Olympics this summer. Those people who died in Tiananmen Square have really been let down by those nations who claim to value freedom.

First_Salute said...

* * *

Made in China

http://tinyurl.com/3yyzeq

It's an article at *Crain's Manchester Business,* an online business news magazine in the United Kingdom.

[EXCERPT:]

“Four of the factories that we do business with in China won't take dollars now,” said Illingworth. “Without the cushion of a soft dollar, the only option is to charge more.” Illingworth estimates that prices in China are 250 per cent higher than they were 18 months ago, despite official claims that inflation is 9 per cent per annum.

* * *

Barry up the road said...

I just finished watching the slide show Luis.

Wow!! What a powerful refresher course in the cost of liberty.

Thanks many times over.

First_Salute said...

* * *

WSJ.com, Friday, April 4, 2008, 10:54 PM

"The IOC [International Olympic Committee] sent a memo to its members advising them on how to respond to media scrutiny of China's human-rights record, and reminding athletes that any "proactive political or religious expression" will be punished."



* * *

calbrindisi said...

"The IOC [International Olympic Committee] sent a memo to its members advising them on how to respond to media scrutiny of China's human-rights record, and reminding athletes that any "proactive political or religious expression" will be punished."

Unbelievable and despicable.