Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Death Toll: Tracking The Fallen

For almost two decades, the Tiananmen Mothers have been collecting and documenting the victims of the Tiananmen massacre, despite of constant government surveillance and harassment. Their efforts have resulted to a list of 189 deaths of confirmed deaths. In this list, 71 were students, ranging from elementary school to graduate school ones.

They were also able to identify the exact locations for 134 deaths. At the 19th anniversary of the tragedy, they published detailed maps showing where they had fallen (the map is annotated in Chinese):

Map of the Fallen Victims

An accompanying map shows the hospitals where the dead were collected:

Map of Hospitals

The first map clearly indicated that the worst fighting happened along the Chang'an Avenue to the west of the Square, where the Beijing residents had put up the most stingiest resistance and where the troops showed the worst violence. Entering the city from the west, the troops killed 2 people in the outskirt, 4 in front of the Military Museum, 36 at the Muxudi intersection, 10 before Fuxinmen, and 5 at Fuxinmen intersection. Continuing inside downtown, they killed 6 near the Peoples Hotel, 10 at Xidan, and 9 at Liubukou. Most of the 9 at Liubukou, however, were killed after the troops had encircled Tiananmen Square and students had withdrawn. In a nightmarish maneuver, an armed personnel carrier charged into crowed and mauled over many on bikes and foot.

In all, more than 80 people perished along the west Chang'an Avenue. In contrast, there were only 6 confirmed deaths in and around the Square itself.

The list of 189 confirmed by Tiananmen Mothers is certainly an incomplete one. It also did not include deaths within the military troop. But among the various numbers that had been reported in the media, it might be the one closer to reality.

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