Wednesday, June 11, 2008

NYT Archive 1989: Massive Arrests in Beijing

On June 11, 1989, New York Times reported that the Chinese government had announced that 400 people had been arrested for participating in the democracy movement. The only one named was student leader Guo Haifeng:
The television news program said that student leaders had been arrested, although it named only one student from Beijing University. The news tonight reported the apprehension of Guo Haifeng, a member of the standing committee of the recently formed independent student union.
''He was arrested just as he and a group of rioters were about to burn an armored personnel carrier,'' the announcer said, without indicating on which day the arrest took place. Nor did he say what kind of punishment the students would receive, and called upon other student leaders to turn themselves in.
''Those leaders who have not been arrested should go to the public security organization and surrender themselves so that they may be dealt with leniently,'' the state television broadcast said. ''Those who refuse to surrender themselves will be arrested and dealt with seriously.''
Guo Haifeng was one of the three students who had staged a kneeling-down petition at Hu Yaobang's funeral. In the early morning of June 4, he was in a bus with several people making Motolov bombs when the bus driver was shot dead and all of them captured by soldiers. He was initially charged for attempting to burn an armed personnel carrier and even destroy Tiananmen itself. But these were eventually dropped for lack of evidence. He was later sentenced for four years on lesser charges.

Presumably, the vast majority of the unnamed arrestees were "rioters and hooligans", who had bravely resisted the advance of the martial law troops. They received much more severe punishments than the students.

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