Monday, May 4, 2009

This Day in 1989: May 4, Large-Scale Protest around the Country

May 4, 1989, the seventieth anniversary of the May Fourth Movement, was a much anticipated date since the beginning of that year. Yet on the heels of the much more recent demonstration of April 27, the anniversary had lost quite a bit of the excitement. Beijing Students Autonomous Federation launched another large-scale demonstration anyhow, in response to the government's refusal of an equal dialogue.

The demonstration on this day was smaller in scale but a much happier occasion than that of the April 27. Students were no longer afraid of a military crackdown. They treated it largely as a victory lap and received, once again, enthusiastic support from Beijing residents. There were only occasional police human barricades, which the students stormed through without trouble.

At Tiananmen Square, students staged an impromptu commemoration of the anniversary by making speeches. In the happy mode, Zhou Yongjun announced that the weeks-long class strike was now over and urged students to resume classes. It appeared that this current student movement had reached its conclusion.

A couple hundreds young reporters joined the demonstration on that day. They rallied to demand press freedom.

In the afternoon, Zhao Ziyang made a keynote speech to the Asian Development Bank conference in Great Hall of People. Without mentioning the April 26 People's Daily editorial directly, he seemed to have reversed its verdict by claiming that there was no, and would not be, turmoil in the country.

Outside of Beijing, large-scale demonstrations erupt in more than a dozen big cities. In Shanghai, students marched and staged a sit-in protest at the city government office.

Days of 1989

No comments: