Beijing Journal

Part of the Global Perspectives on War and Peace Collection. Footage of the political uprising at Tiananmen Square in spring 1989.

00:00Copy video clip URL Tuesday, April 25, 1989. A large procession of students demonstrate in response to the death of former Secretary General Hu Yaobang. Visiting American literature professor Peter Scheckner describes the fact that this is only one of the protests occurring simultaneously across the entire country.

01:05Copy video clip URL Scheckner explains that the students are going to various bus stops, where people are likely to gather, and posting news about the protests so that non-students can hear about what’s going on, as the newspapers aren’t publishing anything about the events.

01:31Copy video clip URL Tiananmen Square, May 17, 1989. Scheckner explains that this is perhaps the largest demonstration to occur in Tiananmen Square since 1976, and that estimates put the crowd between 500,000 and upwards of 1.5-2 million people.

02:00Copy video clip URL Scheckner interviews demonstrators, blacking out their faces to protect them. The students explain that all they want from the government is an open dialogue and an acknowledgement that the students were correct in protesting, which seems simple to Scheckner. The student responds, “Well, you don’t know Chinese history very well… the leaders do not admit that they have made a mistake.”

03:03Copy video clip URL May 21, 1989. The protests continue. “We want to protect this republic, we want to propel the process of democracy.” “Democracy in China must be a process, it cannot be done in one day.”

03:25Copy video clip URL June 3, 1989, 10PM. At home, Scheckner relays preliminary reports from the BBC that about 1,200 troops charged out of party headquarters that day, firing teargas and clashing with students.

03:43Copy video clip URL People discuss their anger at the attacks on the students in Tiananmen Square.

03:57Copy video clip URL June 4, 1989. At Law University in Beijing, the bodies of three students killed in the attacks on June 3 are laid out for viewing. Large crowds of students pass through the building to see the bodies as Scheckner tries to confirm how the students were killed. He reports that over 2,600 students were killed and over 6,000 wounded in the attacks by the Chinese military. From offscreen, a Chinese man implores the videomakers to tell the story to the world: “I hope you can tell the world that the Chinese government is very, very bad. They have already lost the people’s support. They are not the ‘People’s Government.’ They are very cruel. Very cruel.”



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