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The Wound of History

Text: Claude Arpi
June 4, 2008
Blindfolding us, you expect us to see no more
Plugging our ears, you want us to hear no more
Yet, the truth is in our heart
The pain is in the chest
How much longer do we have to endure
How much longer do we have to be kept silent?
If tears can wash away all dusts...
If blood can be exchanged for freedom...
Let tomorrow remember today's outcry
Let the whole world see the wound of history!

June 4, 1989 will forever remain a wound in the history of modern China.

On that fateful night, hundreds, if not thousands were killed. Nineteen years later, the Chinese government maintains that no one died on the Square itself (only on the adjacent avenues) and it has still not released the list of those killed.

A few days after the event, Yuan Mu, the then spokesman of the State Council, declared that only 23 students had died, along with some 'ruffians.'

A year later, Beijing tried to make their version more plausible. Time magazine quoted the official report of the upheaval: 'Chen Xitong, Beijing's hardline mayor, claimed that 200 civilians were killed and more than 3,000 were wounded.' But Chen insisted that casualties were mainly soldiers and policemen.

Time continued: '(Chen's) figures for civilians are almost universally dismissed as outrageous underestimates. On the day of the crackdown, Chinese Red Cross sources told reporters that 2,600 people died and 10,000 were injured, although the organization later denied it.'

Image: Students pay their respects to former Chinese Communist Party leader and liberal reformer Hu Yaobang near the monument to the People's Heroes in Tiananmen Square on April 22, 1989. Yaobang's death in April triggered an unprecedented wave of pro-democracy demonstrations. The April-June 1989 movement was crushed by Chinese troops when army tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square on June 4. Photograph: Catherine Henriette/AFP/Getty Images

Also see: The dangers confronting China

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