Tiananmen Square After 24 Years

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June fourth marks the 24th anniversary of the Chinese government’s suppression of protests at Tiananmen Square in Beijing. As a public place, the Tiananmen Square is huge. On one side is The Great Hall of the People, where China’s Congress meets. In the center of the square is the final resting place of Communist China’s first leader, Mao Zedong. Looking north from the square are the high walls of The Forbidden City, home to China’s rulers for centuries.

A man stands in front of tanks near Tiananmen Square in June 1989.
On June fourth, 1989, tanks and soldiers entered Tiananmen to crush protests led by students and activists. The protesters started gathering there weeks earlier to mourn former Communist Party leader Hu Yaobang, who had died in April. The demonstrations led to calls for reform and democracy in China.

Last Friday, American State Department officials released a statement marking the anniversary of the attack. It called on China to “end harassment of those who participated in the protests and fully account for those killed, detained, or missing.” The State Department called on China to “protect the universal human rights of all its citizens.”

On Monday, a Chinese spokesman said his country urges the United States to, in his words, end political prejudice and “correctly treat China's development." He went on to call the State Department comments, "a rude interference in China's internal affairs."

It is estimated that several hundred to several thousand protestors were killed when Chinese troops raided Tiananmen Square. It is not known exactly how many were injured or arrested.

China still considers the protests a "counter-revolutionary rebellion." The government bans discussion of the incident in public and on the Internet. The government has denied any wrongdoing and never provided a detailed explanation of what happened.

Last week, the New York-based group, Human Rights in China, released on open letter from the activist group Tiananmen Mothers. It called for an open discussion and reconsideration of the events of June 4th.

-from VOA Learning English.