Friday, June 4, 2021

June 4, 1989

Black and white photograph of protestors reading a document over a megaphoneOn June 4th, 1989, the government of the People's Republic of China declared martial law and sent armed soldiers and tanks to disperse a student-led demonstration that had begun on April 15th of that same year in Tiananmen Square, Beijing. The protestors, who at one point numbered close to a million, had been calling for significant governmental and social reforms, among them democracy, freedom of the press, and freedom of speech. Their movement became publicized to such an extent that sympathetic protests began to spring up all over the country. Sensing a threat to Communist Party hegemony, the Chinese government mobilized over 300,000 troops and sent them into central Beijing with the express purpose of forcibly crushing any resistance. Hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of protesters and bystanders were killed, and thousands were wounded.

Here at Rauner, we have a small collection of photographs that were taken by a participant in the protest activity. It contains 65 color and black and white photographs of the 1989 protests at Tiananmen Square, Beijing and Hefei in Anhui province in China. The photographs depict protest marches, groups of protesters, banners, tanks, political posters and political cartoons. To look through them, come to Rauner and ask to see Iconography 1743.