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Friday, 05 June 2009

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And for his courage, we (U.S. citizen/consumers)give the Chinese all of our money for "stuff" while we "look the other way" in regards to these human rights abuses.

his action is even more courageous because it was not the beggining of the crack down,but the end of it ..i saw a documentary the other day that showeed some horific images,parents of the students who had been killed or missing had turned up in large numbers to find they're sons&daughters..almost without warning the military shot them in the back and there we're hundreds of bodies accross the square..this scenario was repeated serveral times,with demonstratorstrying to gather in the square only to be shot in the back as they fled this makes his gesture even more astonishing..a true hero

There is an art project that commemorates the tank man by dancing:

http://www.forget2forget.com/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMBTuFbLQH4

Yes, we remember that lone man standing up to an army tank. But his pictures are nowhere to be seen in China.

But, we now know that the army started shooting even before they got to the square. Innocent people were shot in their appartment from the street. And on the street, children handholding their parents were shot. Students were crushed to death by army tanks.

The Chinese Red Cross admitted to 2600 victims but later retracted.

And prime minister Zhao Ziyang spend the last 16 years of his life in prison, incomunicado. His crime: being sympathetic to the cause of the students.

Today, the "Mothers of Tiananmen" led by Ding Zilin, in her 70's, are still petitionning the goverment for the truth.

How sad.

Let's not forget how much of the crap we buy, including photo equipment, is made in China.

The nytimes lens blog ran a great article about the original four pictures, with interviews from all of the photographers. http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/03/behind-the-scenes-tank-man-of-tiananmen/

This guy is my hero. I've never seen a shot or a painting or anything that better demonstrates the courage it takes to stand up to totalitarianism. Lots of people have shown that courage, in all different kinds of places (including the US), but it's not usually photographed.

I've read (I don't know if it is authoritative) that the tank man was tried and executed. I wonder what happened to the tank commander? I can't believe his humane non-action really did his career much good.

JC

I'm writing from Beijing, and the link to your post about the famous photograph is blocked (along with everything else on Blogger). Minor annoyance for me (visiting China) but extremely sinister for Chinese citizens.

Thank you, Mike, for bringing this up again.

I was brought up on this age old Chinese saying that translates roughly to " Even a commoner is responsible for the fate of his country." While it was not taught to me in that context, I have since welded that idea to the workings of democracy. It is not enough to have a system to tally the votes accurately, but individuals who know right from wrong and cast their votes courageously even in dangerous times. On that June 5th day, one man did and the world noticed.

To not stray too far from photography, if I look at images of Chinese modern history stating from Li ZhenSheng's "Red-Color News Soldier" to the present, I think it is only fair to say that the Chinese government has made some progress.

This is pure speculation, but it is possible that our lone hero is survived by his wife who glued rubber soles together in a factory that has a big contract from Nike to put their only son through college. That boy, however, skipped class to sell pirated Windows but has now finally landed a job with Google. Long and slow progress, but progress nonetheless, no?

Thanks for the article. The newly-discovered photo was especially meaningful after I followed the other links and became more fully informed as to exactly what happened and when. It takes a brave man to look death in the face and not flinch.

I remember watching the student gathering two decades ago, thinking that the uprising in Tienamen Square was the precursor to a Chinese revolution and perhaps the largest country in the world would become a democracy also. And then I remember watching the news as they reported the Army moving in, the tanks rolling in, the gunfire, and then the lights going out in the square... and the lights going out in China. I saw the tank man photos, but didn't understand the backstory, figuring this guy was actually in Tianamen Square. It's a lot more sobering to realize that he deliberately made the choice to confront the tanks when it would have been far easier to just keep walking... and that choice most likely cost him his life.

Your article led to the PBS Frontline special on the Tank Man, and the true story of what really happened, of the rolling battle between the PLA and ordinary Chinese, trying to keep the army out of Tianeman Square and fighting for almost two miles, standing at each intersection, until they were pushed aside by the army. Of the slaughter in the Square itself that night. And, of the repeated slaughter in the streets the next day by an army who was commanded to instill terror in the populace by shooting down unarmed citizens and even an ambulance crew.

The really sad thing about all of this is the ignorance about it by much of the Chinese population today, and the attitudes that some have. I talked to a Chinese Ph.D at a large software company here in the Seattle area a couple of years ago and the subject came up... and she said the students were troublemakers who deserved what they got. I couldn't believe it.

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