Was there a massacre in Tiananmen Square?
On June 4, 1989, a large group of students gathered in Tiananmen Square to protest for their right to freedom of speech and democracy. In retaliation, the Chinese government sent martial law to control them. A riot between the troops and the protestors was broadcast across the world and called the ‘Tiananmen Square Massacre’. The Chinese government denies this to be true and calls the event the ‘Tiananmen Square Incident’. BBC footage, witness accounts and journals written about the event suggest a massacre did occur. However, official government sources, and the unreliability of witnesses and media accounts imply that the massacre of the students at Tiananmen Square did not occur.
The existence of a massacre in Tiananmen Square is demonstrated in the televised BBC reports. BBC journalists recorded footage of casualties leaving the square to over-crowded, under-staffed hospitals. BBC described the scene as “[t]he troops have been firing indiscriminately… Their own army were firing at them.” This footage suggests that there was violence in Tiananmen Square with the potential for fatalities. The BBC journalist also reports to have picked up a woman with a bullet in the head , bringing her to a nearby hospital only to find it overrun with dying casualties: “In 20 minutes, 40 seriously injured were brought for emergency surgery. Two were already dead.” The local hospitals were not equipped for the flow casualties, resulting in further illness and fatalities.
However, most information given to the public was written by journalists like the reporter from BBC rather than academics, and is subject to sensationalism to achieve greater ratings for the program. The journalist in the BBC report had said that the soldiers were “launching into an unarmed civilian population as if charging into battle… The sound of gunfire sounded like a battle – but it was one-sided.” Previously she has stated the crowd had been setting...
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