fredag 5. juni 2020

Tiananmen Square witnesses remember an air of celebration, and then 'Orwellian silence'

It was mid-morning in Tiananmen Square in Beijing on 1 June, 1989. Someone had turned on a boombox playing 80s disco music, and people began to dance. A young couple spins in a small opening in the crowd. The woman smiles slightly, her eyes almost closed, as her partner in a loose dress shirt and blazer turns her. Around them, people are clapping.

It is a photo that captures a side of the pro-democracy movement often overshadowed by what came after – the brutal military crackdown on the evening of 3 June and morning of 4 June. There is no official death toll but activists believe hundreds, possibly thousands, were killed.

More than 30 years later, Zhou Fengsuo, a student leader in Beijing who was later jailed, remembers the scene. “There was a lot of celebration. For the first time, you see this freedom in the air, that inspired people to celebrate to be hopeful and be joyful in Tiananmen Square, the symbol of power in China. That’s the most inspiring story of 1989.”