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Tiananmen Square: Free Speech Crushed

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Tiananmen Square: Government Crushes Hope for Free Speech

Twenty years on, it's easy to find the exact spot where a young man in a white shirt, clutching a plastic carrier bag, stood in front of a growling tank on Chang An Avenue in the centre of Beijing.

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Pictures went around the world of him talking - arguing? - with the driver. But today it's impossible to find out what happened to him.

In 1989, hundreds of protesters were eager to talk on camera about their desire for a more just society and their hope for change.

Eager to advance economically in the twentieth century, the Chinese leadership had recognized they had to educate the people. The danger was the workers would at once have the tools to think for themselves. Most of them were able to see through the silliness that was Communism.

The leaders called the dissidents the "dregs of society," but they could not defeat their ideas. They had to outmuscle them.

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Here's how they did it on June 4, 1989.

Our Right to be Free from Fear

Bob Chen, Global Voices

Blogger Lan Xiaohuan (兰小欢), in his post ‘Bitter Smile', reflects on how a nation permeated with fear has muzzled people's voice. Lamenting that the cost to claim the rights of a citizen is getting higher today, he also lampooned the infusing fear that crushes people's courage and love, concluding that Chinese have never really stood up without fear.

The western journalists ask. "When will you stand up?"

I was angry with their question, ‘Damn it, we have never really stood up before. We have always been crawling on the ground so why can't we just stand up occasionally to take a break? We submit to humiliation to our countrymen at home so that we have to hold our heads high to you foreigners. Or we will be suffocated by our simmering fury!'

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So, if we adults have to bend over on the ground with humiliation, how would we educate our children about ‘courage' and ‘love'? What we can do is but to tell them fairy tales about courage and love when they are children, and at the time they are going to make it real, we will shout, ‘ No! Stay low!'

Maybe next time when I am back to China, I should visit the Tiananmen Square to talk with the dead bodies lying there, ‘Look, how much have they scared you!'.

The blocked sites include Twitter, Flickr and Microsoft’s Hotmail, according to the Telegraph. FoxNews added The Huffington Post, Life Journal and the MSN Spaces blogging tool to the list. BBC viewers in China also saw their screens black out when the news service broadcast stories about the anniversary, and foreign news crews have been barred from filming in the square. Readers of the Financial Times and Economist magazine found stories about Tiananmen ripped from their pages. Authorities also plan to begin cracking down on unapproved internet cafes, according to reports from state media.

The blocked sites are just a few among thousands that China’s censors have targeted since the beginning of last year.

The martyrs of Tiananmen Square were neither the "dregs of society" or revolutionaries. They didn't want to overthrow the government. They stood and died for First Amendment rights. They still wait.

 

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Born a month before Pearl Harbor, I attended world events from an early age. My first words included Mussolini, Patton, Sahara and Patton. At age three I was a regular listener to Lowell Thomas. My mom was an industrial nurse a member of the (more...)
 

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