In a brutal and horrific show of force, the Chinese Government vented its fury and frustration on student dissidents and their supporters on 4 June 1989.
Up to 2,600 people are thought to have been killed and 10,000 injured when the People’s Liberation Army appeared in the streets of Beijing, advancing on Tiananmen Square, firing indiscriminately on demonstrators.
Thousands pleaded with soldiers to “Go home, go home” only to face a fusillade of bullets. The students retaliated, pulling the crew from a troop carrier and beating them senseless before setting the vehicle alight.
Screams of agony rang out as hundreds of injured were carried through the streets by frantic riders to hospitals, many of which were filled to overflowing with dead, dying and wounded.
After 1.00 am the troops lined up for their final assault on the great square in which, until a few hours earlier, a near-carnival atmosphere had reigned. Marching forward towards the students they fired at will, climbing over bodies and still shooting. Then came the tanks which had no difficulty in flattening the students tents or their occupants. It was all over.
World leaders were quick to condemn the massacre. In Moscow, the Soviet news agency Tass gave few details of what had happened.