Saturday, October 11, 2014

Exploration Four Chris Ward

As with most protesting, it follows significant events that greatly impact the population. The country of China found itself slipping into the Cultural Revolution from, 1966-1976. This was a period of great violence in society and brutality by the Communist party.  Hu Yaobang, was one of the few individuals in the Chinese government that allowed demonstration and advocated for the people who were persecuted during the cultural revolution. He was removed from office and was forced to publicly humiliate himself. After his death, the government refused to recognize him. This sparked fury in students across Beijing and protests began which advocated for him to receive the honor he was due. The government gave in and held a subdued funeral for him but did not allow students to attend and did not allow them to petition. This fueled more protests. With the General Secretary out of the country, the remaining officials fanned the flame by making them out to be a violent minority. Desperate now to not show weakness, the government had trapped itself and had to enforce discipline. The students refused to leave Tiananmen Square. They began a hunger strike to force the government to give in. After months of protest, the Peoples Liberation Army was brought in to disperse the crowd with tear gas. In reaction, the protestors attacked troops with rocks, burned out buses, and even burned out tanks killing the crews inside. On the evening of June 3rd, troops began moving through with force and killed many protestors and bystanders. By June 4th, Tiananmen Square was empty. I think the possibly ill-advised reaction of the protestors took the event much further than it should have gone. Their rash decision to attack the troops only sealed their fate. By handling the protest differently, the outcome would have been different on both sides. What those students did spoke to the whole world about the true situation in China and created an international uproar. What they did may have seemed in vein but I believe it did some good in the long run. I think it is important to learn from history so that we do not repeat it. Take the warning signs, compare them to Tiananmen Square, and make decisions accordingly.
So far, the Hong Kong Protests have been a peaceful display of democracy. The shear number involved with the movement
demonstrates the validity of their cause. The world is watching the event so closely that the government has to be careful
about how they handle it. The threat of Tiananmen Square looms in the back of everyone's mind and serves as a reminder
 of what can become of a peaceful protest. No one, on either side, wants that from Hong Kong.

Press of soldiers surrounds student protestors, Tiananmen Square, 1989. - Jeff Widener / Associated Press.  Used with permission.
The soldiers and students were roughly the same age. The PLA were even doubted by their superiors
because they were thought to be in favor of the protests. This fueled their aggression to prove
that they were not involved and they did whatever they had to do to whoever got in their way of clearing the protests.
Here, you see students being manhandled by soldiers and dragged off. The protest began peacefully but actions like this
encouraged uproar and escalation.


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