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Remembering Tiananmen Square Massacre 30 Years Later


We are marking an anniversary this morning. Thirty years ago today, China's army marched to the Tiananmen Square in Beijing and violently crushed a weeks-long demonstration calling for democratic reform. Here's some of the ABC News broadcast from that day.


GARY SHEPARD: They fired automatic weapons into crowds of citizens who, for the most part, could fight back with nothing more than rocks and bottles. They fired their weapons into groups of demonstrators that sometimes numbered in the tens of thousand. There has been no official announcement of casualties. Student leaders claim they are staggering.


One of those student leaders was Zhou Fengsuo of Tsinghua University. He tells NPR he was in the square all night.

ZHOU FENGSUO: We were at the eye of a storm. We heard gunshots from all directions. I saw armored vehicles rushing on the square and troops pouring in. We were surrounded.

MARTIN: Zhou tried to give a speech to the troops, but he says they beat him and threatened to kill him.

INSKEEP: As news of the massacre spread, student organizer Bob Fu was at the campus of Liaocheng University outside Beijing.

BOB FU: It was really absolutely shock because we had never imagined, by sitting in the peaceful Tiananmen Square - which, translated literally, is Square of Heavenly Peace - our so-called people's government would send the so-called People's Liberation Army to shoot its own people.

INSKEEP: Now, the two student organizers we've just heard found their lives changed by those events. And both eventually moved to the United States, where they continue their activism for a freer China to this day.

MARTIN: In the days after June 4, 1989, China's capital went into lockdown. NPR's Deb Amos was there and went back to Tiananmen Square in the following days.


DEB AMOS, BYLINE: You can now see a very heavy presence of Chinese soldiers. On my right, there's barbed wire. Across this broad street, there are tanks covered with tarpaulin from the rain. Most of the soldiers have their rain gear on, and they're standing like statues about 20 feet apart all along this road. This is where the soldiers have remained all week.

MARTIN: Much of the international community has condemned what happened in Tiananmen Square. China's defense minister recently justified the violence, calling it the, quote, "correct" policy to handle the political turbulence.

INSKEEP: For the most part, China's government has buried this story. It is very rarely mentioned inside China. And in fact, our former colleague in Beijing, Louisa Lim, once wrote a book called "The People's Republic Of Amnesia." Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.