2013-0-04   Remembering June 4        John W

 

For Hong Kong people, June 4 is a sacred date. Tonight more than 100,000 people are expected to gather in Victoria Park for a candlelight vigil to observe the 24th anniversary of June 4.  At the City University of Hong Kong a June 4 Memorial Museum has been set up, open until July 15. 

Those of us who were in Hong Kong in May-June 1989 have clear memories of the events of that time. June 3 was a Saturday and Hong Kong had a typhoon with No. 8 Signal hoisted, so everyone was at home, watching the Tiananmen Square drama live on CNN TV.

Some years later I watched the excellent documentary "The Gate of Heavenly Peace" which
claims that the last lot of students left the square safely in the early hours of June 4.
In June 1999 I contacted James Miles, who had been BBC correspondent in Beijing in 1989.

In an email to me he wrote:
"….intellectuals …who had been staging a hunger strike on the square with the students,
 negotiated with the …troops on behalf of the students, after the troops reached the square.
As a result, the students were allowed to leave without harm….
I believe it is possible that no-one was killed on the square …..
…it does now seem that some of the reports I and others filed at the time
implying there was a bloodbath on the square proper,  were misleading.
I think 'The Gate of Heavenly Peace' documentary is a good reflection of what happened."

For me, Wikipedia  puts it well: "Contrary to popular perceptions of the event,
the violence did not occur during the protests on the actual square,
but in the streets of Beijing, as the army proceeded through the city to Tiananmen Square...".

As we rightly remember and commemorate June 4, let's make sure of the facts we are commemorating.

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See also 2012   June 4 article