, 31 tweets, 11 min read Read on Twitter
THREAD. Exactly 30 years ago, at 11pm June 3rd 1989, the first protesters to be shot dead in Beijing's 1989 pro-democracy movement were killed, in front of the Beijing Military Museum, roughly 6km West of Tiananmen Square. 1/
This crackdown would kill untold numbers - I would hazard a guess at high-hundreds to low-thousands - overnight and into the next few days. It marked the end of a nascent decade-long democracy movement. To this day, the crackdown has not ended. 2/
This thread will share some articles, books, essays, reports and documentaries that can hopefully shed some light on these protests and the crackdown. Too many people have forgotten, or never learnt about, May and June 1989 in Beijing. 3/
The first thing I want to recommend is @JinPeili's 2009 book Tiananmen Moon. Philip was a graduate student in Beijing at the time and thrust into the Beijing marches of Early May. His book isn't quite an inside account nor completely divorced from the movement. 4/
It's certainly engaging though and I smashed it out much quicker than I expected to. It brushes on all the key events. 5/
Also please watch The Gate of Heavenly Peace, a 1995 documentary that stretches a whopping - but well worthwhile - 3 and a half hours. It's also on YouTube in full:
And, in Chinese here: /6
Next is this brave short-documentary by the South China Morning Post. Refreshingly it's produced by and featuring Chinese people and their perspectives. It provides a voice that is rarely able to be heard. It's here: scmp.com/video/scmp-ori… 7/
In stark contrast to that, is this new short-documentary by Arthur Kent, a journalist on the square that night. Personally, I find this video quite tasteless, but it undoubtedly has some incredible footage. 8/
Also worth watching is the June 1989 ABC News program Tragedy at Tiananmen. There are a few little facts here that seem expedited for the narrative (ie the evacuation), but it's really good. It's available (with 80s commercials!) here vimeo.com/217870925 9/
One of the most striking shots I've seen - and I believe it was in this documentary - was the students making way for official guards to raise the flag in Tiananmen square. It shows the complexity of these protests, how they weren't so much anti-government as pro-reform. 10/
Finally, video wise, is this hot-off-the-press ABC @4Corners documentary. This is just really good. Watch it (idk if it's geoblocked, but find a vpn). abc.net.au/4corners/tremb… 11/
This essay, by student leader Wang Dan (@wangdan1989), highlights some key misconceptions about the protests and how they still reverberate around China. journalofdemocracy.org/articles/30-ye… 12/
This essay for Human Rights Watch by @Yaqiu highlights some of the aspects mentioned by Wang, and focuses on how the crackdown that started in Tiananmen Square has continued and prevents civic activism on a wide array of subjects to this day hrw.org/news/2019/05/3… 13/
@ChuBailiang's recent piece in the New York Times highlights small acts of defiance by members of the PLA and their ultimate disenfranchisement from the Party here: nytimes.com/2019/05/28/wor… 14/
@LimLouisa wrote a magnificent book - The People's Republic of Amnesia - on the systematic rewriting of history regarding Tiananmen. I haven't read it (yet!) but I'm happy to recommend. For a shorter read my her on this topic see this NYT's Op-Ed nytimes.com/2019/06/02/opi… 15/
This idea is also explored in this podcast, hosted by Louisa and @GraemeKSmith, well worth a listen. omny.fm/shows/the-litt… 16/
@Yangyang_Cheng has also written about this, from the perspective of growing up in China and born after 1989. She sums it up best in her tweet here: 17/
Here I also want to break from the recommendations to say that I have found these last few points particularly salient. Of all the Chinese students I know, the only ones with any ever-so-slight idea about Tiananmen Square are those who had parents or relatives protesting. 18/
Even then, the stories are told through hushed lips, in passing and innuendo. It is crazy to me that young people in China today are so affected by the continuing crackdown - fresh on the minds of decision makers - whilst being wholly denied knowledge of such a 19/
shaping moment of modern Chinese history. When the People's Army fired on the people and turned Cheng'an into a street of blood, the CCP changed in a way almost wholly unknown to young people today. 20/
This Washington Post article tells five stories, from five people who were there that night, from all sorts of perspectives and it's a good read. washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/… 21/
This declassified - but highly redacted - CIA report offers some insights into the factional politics that shaped and catalysed China's response to these protests. Idk enough to vouch and I'm sure there are issues - but an interesting read. nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB4… 22/
This exhausting dossier by the HK advocacy group Art in Defense of Humanism collects several official, journalistic and first-hand reports of the violent crackdown and is a good resource aidoh.dk/new-struct/Hap… 23/
So is this Amnesty report from 1990 that pieces together a lot of the violence of that night. The true scale of which will never be known. This report does the best job I've see in collating what we know amnesty.org/download/Docum… 24/
This report also details intense brutality by soldiers in the city of Chengdu, Sichuan province. After news of the massacre spread, protests erupted in Chendu and were suppressed, killing dozens - scores. One eyewitness saw a 15-16 y.o. girl repeated bayoneted to death. 25/
As I post these, thirty years to the minute after protesters were being gunned down in China's capital, millions are detained, interred and conscripted into forced labour in China's "New Frontier" - Xinjiang. 26/
The 1989 crackdown has reverberated into the largest ethno-religious interment of minorities since the Holocaust. The ONLY acceptable perspective is the Party line. All others are considered subversive. From feminism (see @LetaHong's work) to simple religious faith. 27/
It's hard to see how this situation amounts to any mandate - least of all the mandate of heaven. 28/
Student leader Chai Ling said, in 1989 "I feel that in China, this will be a very long, slow process - maybe it will take sixty or seventy years - but I hope there will be a day when... we can safely enjoy our labour" 29/
Thirty years on it's hard to see any progress. But thirty years is only half way to that arbitrary point set by Chai Ling. The Party has a firm, clenching grip that will not release anytime soon, but it's important to wonder what the more durable mandate is, 30/
The mandate of the cult of Xi Jinping, or the mandate of democracy.

What's most important though, is to never forget 1989, the untold lives lost and the innumerable perspectives stifled since. 31/31
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