One Big Thing: Lessons Learned from the 31st Anniversary of Tiananmen Square
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Top left, clockwise: Police arrest pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong; Police confront demonstrators protesting the death of George Floyd in NYC; Large scale protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989; A protesters confronts tanks at Tiananmen Square Massacre (June 4, 1989)
On June 4, 1989, the Chinese Communist Party violently suppressed pro-democracy protesters at what is now known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Thirty-one years later, still little is known about the actual events which occurred as the CCP continues to make efforts to hide its past human rights violations from its own citizens and the rest of the world. Amid the CCP’s violent suppression of the demonstrators, tanks destroyed the symbolic 'Goddess of Democracy’ statue, copies of which has since been erected around the world as a symbol of defiance. Today, the Chinese government is faced with similar pro-democracy protests – this time in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong has traditionally existed as a Special Administrative Region and thus enjoys its own autonomy defined by the principle of “one country, two systems”. For the past year, pro-democracy protests have been violently repressed by security forces loyal to Beijing. In May 2020, the CCP introduced new legislation aimed at curbing Hong Kong’s territorial independence and its citizens’ human freedoms.
Today, protesters in Hong Kong stand in solidarity with protesters in the United States. Like the protesters at Tiananmen Square, Hong Kongers still see the United States as beacon of hope as Hong Kong protesters have sung the U.S. National Anthem as a symbol of democracy and a call for our continued support. The vast majority of Americans who marched in the protests have done so peacefully – while only a small minority have resorted to violence. Today’s protest movements in both Hong Kong and the US underscore how peaceful, nonviolent protests can achieve solidarity and unity in purpose and drive societal change for the better.
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