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Tiananmen Square: The Million-Person Protest You Still Can't Talk About In China

  • World
  • 06.05.13 08:41 AM EDT

Twenty four years ago today, a crackdown began in Tiananmen Square, the public plaza in front of Beijing's Forbidden City. For over a month, students and demonstrators had been gathered, protesting the Chinese governement, its repression and lack of economic opportunity. At the height of the protests, as many as a million may have been present. 

The incident -- known around the world as one of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, where hundreds of unarmed Chinese citizens were gunned down by government forces with tanks (precise numbers are unknown) -- is still barely mentioned in China, where the same Communist Party still holds power. 

Hu Yaobang, a reformer and liberal Party chief, died in the Spring of 1989. A week later, 100,000 gathered in the central square of Beijing, to protest the crumbling and corrupt one-party system. Within weeks, more than a million had gathered. 

Early on the morning of June 4, the Communist Party moved in with tanks and soldiers numbering in the tens of thousands. In the resulting massacre, an unkown number of protesters died. 

And now, nearly a quarter of a century later and as the anniversary of the incident arrives, censors in China are at work, plugging cracks in the "Great Firewall of China," the government's massive internet censorship program, trying to cover up and bar all mention of the incident.