Saturday, April 18, 2009

This Day in 1989: April 18, Students Sit-in at Great Hall of People and Xinhuamen

After spending the night in Tiananmen Square guarding the flowers and wreaths at the Monument to People's Heroes, the crowd from Peking University shrank to about two hundreds in the early morning of April 18, 1989. They had come up with a Seven-Point Petition which they intended to submit to the National People's Congress.

Wang Dan and Guo Haifeng led the remaining crowd onto the steps of the Great Hall of People. When it opened the door in the morning, they went in and submitted the petition to an office. Wang Dan obtained a receipt and then left the scene. But the crowd was not satisfied and remained at the site. They wanted to have People's Representatives to receive the petition in person. Another copy of the peitition was made and Li Jinjin took the lead to organize a day-long sit-in. It was by the evening hour when three People's Representatives finally agreed to appear and receive the petition in front of the students. Li Jinjin met them on the steps and handed the paper in a scene resembling a formal diplomatic manuver.

Li Jinjin left the scene and returned to Peking University, where to his horror he saw large groups of students rushing out of the campus to reinforce the crowd at Tiananmen.

Later that night, a sizable crowd gathered in front of Xinhuamen, the site of the central government and engaged a push-and-shove match with the guards there. They demanded for the Premier Li Peng to appear in person for a dialogue. The situation was tense.

Eventually, however, the crowd dispersed in the early morning hours with the combined efforts of rational persuasion and the appearrance of more and more police force. No violence broke out that night, but the same could not be said for the next night.

Days of 1989

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