Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Photo credit: Jeff Widener/AP

Today marks the 19th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, a student protest during which certainly hundreds and possibly thousands were killed in an attempt to exercise free speech against the Chinese Communist rulers. Much has changed in China and much has stayed the same. A palpable anticipation of the Olympic Games rules in Beijing, and a surge of nationalist pride after the Sichuan earthquake killed tens of thousands have obscured, for many, the reality of China's oppression.
But today stands as a real and immovable marker of China's brutal truth.

Between 50 and 200 people remain imprisoned to this day for their involvement in the Tiananmen uprising. Tibet is still a closed, stifled and violently oppressed place. And Chinese journalists are still officially forbidden from even mentioning the Tiananmen uprising at all, under threat of severe penalty. Indeed, when people within China try to access information online on Tiananmen Square, they will only find government propaganda sites or tourist information. And despite recent overtures, Beijing is still actively supporting genocide in Darfur through policy and continued arms dealing to Sudan.

All this is all really just the tip of the iceberg.

So, whether or not we choose to watch the athletes this summer who have worked so hard to be where they are, it will be difficult--for me at least--to escape the spectre of the Chinese government's violent and oppressive nature. And today is a grim reminder of this terrible reality.

Why does it matter? Because China will be a bigger and far more influential force in our children's lives than it ever was in ours.


Vickyann said...

19 years? I would not have had any idea it was the anniversary without reading your blog, thank you.

When I was in school I had a project to turn the info we had on Tiananmen Square into a radio play. I enjoyed the task but was saddened that it was a real event.

I must have been about 16 at the time and over the years have heard bits of stories about the massacre, it always brings me back to those few sheets of paper I held in my hands, one of the strongest memories I have of school.

I will probably watch the games this summer but with the greatest respect for Tibet and their struggle.

Vicky XXX

Anonymous said...

And how about a back of the hand to the snarky Googleholes who are cooperating with the Chinese government and denying *one* *billion* *people* unfettered use of the Internet!

People should be up in arms about this and facing down the virtual tanks of totalitarian mind control.

Google -- *you* are the problem!

Meaghan said...

I agree, corporate capitulation coupled with individual indifference, is a large part of the problem. The more we talk about it, write about it, shout about it, the harder it will be to ignore.

Thanks for the comments! And Vickyann, thanks for your story.