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Tuesday, 03 June 2014


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There will be a memorial for 6/4 tonight in Hong Kong. And interestingly, many of the websites that have material relating to this have been hit by DOS attacks recently...

I have the Turnleys' book. Powerful reminder. "Never forget."

Here are some photos from the Magnum site:

Thanks for the pics and the link. We remember. The question is whether the brief spark of democratic instinct/yearning we witnessed will ever return for that quarter of humanity. My fear is that that historic moment is gone. It is especially disturbing that among the younger generation a rising economy has brought forth not renewed calls for democracy and human rights but nationalistic pretensions. Sad.

We in the USA are rather smug about what happened in China 1989 with soldiers firing on their own people. Lest we forget, in May 1970 we had soldiers in Ohio firing on students demonstrating at Kent State. And we had academics such as Loren Eisley condoning the massacre since the students were disrupting education. As a KSU alumni who remembers, I wonder and hope we in USA have learned from these events.

You may not want to publish this since it's a podcast, but it may interest you personally.


Unfortunately, they didn't separate out the Tiananmen segment, so you have to search for it a bit. It's in the first hour, I remember that. Fascinating interview with someone who was living in China at the time.

Why hasn't Peter T published a book of his work in journalism?

[He has published three, all with his brother David, including one on Tiananmen Square. Check his website under the "Books" tab. --Mike]

Just as a matter of curiosity, was the Turnleys' book "Beijing Spring" ever translated into Chinese (Mandarin or other)? If so, did many sell?

Kudos to the NatGeo photo editor for the remarkable sequencing of the photos, and the Turnley brothers who only honor and elevate their subjects with their remarkably refined composition and use of light. That rarified level of photojournalism now seems like an artifact of a lost age.

Dear Mike,

Thank you very much for helping to give an on-going voice through this post to the many people that stood up in Tiananmen Square and risked their live 25 years ago, asking simply for a better life with more freedom and democracy. I will never forget a maid in my hotel room the day of June 4th, 1989, who ran back from the door of my room after cleaning it, and whispered in my ear-"please show your photographs to the world, so people will know what happened here". My heartfelt thanks to you Mike, for all you to do to support and advance the power of visual storytelling-it does matter!

If you are interested in author interviews, check out the Writers and Company podcast where Eleanor interviews Yiyun Li about her experience as a 16 year old living in Beijing in 1989.

CharlieH said: Why hasn't Peter T published a book of his work in journalism?

I highly recommend "In Times of War and Peace"

Peter, I will love to help translating the text for you!

An article on some of the other versions, including a link to video: http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2014/05/30/the-other-tank-man-photographs/

Terril Jones was an AP reporter in Beijing back in 1989. He has recounted his experience in the Wilson Quarterly and his story includes many previously unpublished photos featuring his version of the famous Tank Man photo, shot from a completely different angle.


If you care about the truth about Tiananmen Square in those days, you may want to check this out if you haven’t yet: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2014/06/03/commentary/world-commentary/really-happened-tiananmen/. Or, you can look at many of the available online pictures about the event (not just the sufferings the civilians were having) and imagine what your government would do to that. It was clear, and as happened so often in the human history, what an good intention of “asking simply for a better life with more freedom and democracy” (from Peter’s comment) could end up with situation not that simple (please look at the fourth picture). It might help to know that many soldiers were brutally killed. I was in my third year of medical school in a big city in South China, where what were going on in Beijing in the beginning was basically also happening around me. I had a student’s heart, but I went on the street as an observer rather than a demonstrator. I still feel the pain of the tragedy. Unfortunately, I have to say that simply blame the Chinese government is not fair. It is undestandable that they remain silent, because no one will listen to then no matter what they say about the event.
(BTW, the man in blue in the first picutre is not a student; he is wairing a badge that says "employee").

And then there are those who call the Turnley's (and other journalists there) liars:


I was listening to a radio broadcast when the army started marching in the square - it was around 7 pm here in Italy. I think I stayed with the radio to my ear for at least one hour, when the reported decided to flee the scene and go back to his hotel.I still remember that day.

"Witness to history", that captures it so well. But there's another dimension, the first of a pair of reference point that marks time's passage. Take a look at these,


Mike, the David Turnley picture of the young women completing the poster dated the 29th May, records its own internal caption. It invites people to a specific point in the immensity of Tiananmen Square for discussions, indicated by the small scale replica of the Statue of Liberty erected there by some of the students.

I'm relieved to see that someone else has drawn the same parallel as myself.

Reconsider these events from the Chinese government's perspective. They face a demonstration of unprecedented scale. The attendant press - comprising, almost exclusively, journalists from countries opposed to the regime - are standing around encouraging the demonstrators to feel that the entire world supports them, irrespective of what the vast majority of the Chinese population actually thinks and wants.

The government next calls in the army - hardly a surprising development; most, if not all governments would do the same thing under similar circumstances. The Chinese army initially acts with extreme restraint. The demonstrators now begin encouraging the army to MUTINY, with the foreign press cheering the process on from the sidelines...

The outcome was hardly surprising. The US government responded similarly under the negligible threat posed by students at Kent State university, Ohio, in 1970.

History are written by the victors. If the truth really is as the ibtimes presents it, you can bet that the Chinese government would be trumpeting it. The fact that they basically shut any mention down is the "we have things to hide" evidence.

Looking back on what happened 25 years ago, I can't honestly say that the Chinese government did the wrong thing.

What they did wrong, if anything, was to allow the situation to get out of control in the first place. They allowed it to linger such that it transmogrified from a spontaneous expression of dissatisfaction into open revolt. Near the end, it was clear the students were not going to back down from their demands for regime change.

We only need to see the colour revolutions taking place worldwide these days, sponsored by foreign funding, to see the kind of destabilisation and violence taking place in their many manifestations, from Venezuela to Ukraine, and Libya to Syria.

I don't mean to belittle the lives lost, but Tiananmen was a watershed moment, a crossroads from which China could 1) go down the path of chaos and fragmentation, or 2) take the path that would lead it to where it is today: the world's biggest trading nation (environmental problems and all).

If one thing is consistent in Chinese history, it is that the fall of a dynasty always heralded a long period of strive and turmoil exemplified by the warlord era.

Have things become worse in China since that fateful day in 1989? Remember, 500 million people have been lifted out of poverty by Deng Xiaoping. That, to my mind, is more meaningful than the ideas of democracy and freedom.

New spring in the yard ... Ukraine .... Welcome to hell!

The end does not justify the means, and just because someone else does it wrong, it does not excuse the action of any. June 4th did not have to happen. They could have taken lots of people to jail after they rolled in with the tanks. The citizens were unarmed, comparing to the PLA.

And regardless what American did in Kent State, or that Ukraine is a mess or anything, a government should never fire on its own people.

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