Monday, October 27, 2008

How the Other Tiananmen Incident was Overturned

Before June 4, 1989, there was the "Tiananmen Incident" of April 5, 1976, also known as the April Fifth Movement. During that time, thousands of Beijing residents gathered at Tiananmen Square to commemorate the late Premier Zhou Enlai, who had passed away a few months ago. The spontaneous display of emotion was met by brutality of the government, who used clubs and heavy boots to disperse the crowd and later persecuted the active participants they had identified.

Wang Juntao was only 15 years old at the time. He was sent to jail for having organized his high school class to the Square and posted three poems he had written. Chen Ziming escaped arrest by returning to his forced-labor farm, where he was already serving a sentence for expressing dissident opinions in private letters.

The verdict of that "Tiananmen Incident" was overturned in 1978 after Deng Xiaoping regained his power. A recent article in China Newsweek recalled the moments when the "Incident" became the April Fifth Movement. Wang Juntao and Chen Ziming, along with other young leaders, were then hailed as national heroes.

Xujun Eberlein at Inside-Out China added her own experiences and observations of these events.

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