Tuesday, June 2, 2009

This Day in 1989, June 2, the Calm before the Storm

There were clear signs that tension between the students occupying the Tiananmen Square and the government was gradually building on June 2, 1989. More soldiers were seen around the area, either marching or jogging in formation, or just wandering about. Some of them were blocked by students.

In the early afternoon, close to a thousand students rode bicycles to the office of Beijing Daily and burned copies of that days edition in a protest of the newspaper's "degenerative" report on the movement.

Later, Liu Xiaobo led Gao Xin, Zhou Dou, and Hou Dejian into the Square and announced their own hunger strike. They would become known as the "Four Gentlemen." Liu Xiaobo read a manifesto of their own criticizing both the government and the students' erratic behavior during the movement and vowed to steer the movement into a more sensible direction. But the day belonged to Hou Dejian, a folk song writer and star originally from Taiwan. Huge crowd started to build up during that evening for the newest attraction in town: the Goddess of Democracy and Hou Dejian in a public square.

The day ended with an unexpected excitement. A speeding military jeep lost control at the Muxidi intersection on Chang'an Avenue and smashed into pedestrians, killing three at the scene. Thousands of students and residents rushed to the scene in a frenzy, thinking it as an early sign of military movement. Along the Chang'an Avenue, they did discover vehicles carrying sacks of military supplies, including helmets, rifles, and bayonets. Some of weapons were displayed on top of buses for television cameras. Alarms went off on campuses calling for students to enforce Tianamen Square. After fourteen days of martial law, the wolf was finally coming.

It was the night before the tragedy.

Days of 1989

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