In June 1989, several thousand Chinese college students and disgruntled citizens from all walks of life gathered in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to publicly mourn the death of purged high-level official Hu Yaobang, as well as demand government accountability, freedom of the press and a stop to the rampant corruption plaguing the country. As demonstrations escalated, the Chinese government deployed the military to crack down on the protesters, opening fire on unarmed civilians and killing unknown numbers.
Nearly three decades since Beijing ordered tanks and troops into the Tiananmen Square to crush the student-led pro-democracy uprising, any public commemoration of the event remains banned across the Chinese mainland, where the government has never released an official death toll from the brutal crackdown.
During the military operation on the night of June 3-4, 1989, armored personnel carriers allegedly “opened fire on the crowd (both civilians and soldiers) before running over them,” according to British government cables.
Once the Chinese soldiers arrived in Tiananmen Square, students understood they were given one hour to leave square but after five minutes APCs attacked.
Students linked arms but were mown down including soldiers. APCs then ran over bodies time and time again to make ‘pie’ and remains collected by bulldozer. Remains incinerated and then hosed down drains.
The Chinese government justifies the bloodshed by labeling it a suppression of the “counter-revolutionary riots.” Beijing claims some 200 civilians and several dozen police and military personnel were killed during the crackdown. Analyst say the actual number could be in the thousands.