Tiananmen Square Massacre
30th Anniversary Picket
London, June 1
On 15th April 1989 Hu Yaobang, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China died from a heart attack. Students, who had been preparing to commemorate the ‘May 4th Movement’ of 1919 brought forward their demonstrations in response. By 17th April students marched from their universities into Tiananmen Square in the heart of Beijing, chanting pro-democracy slogans as they went. An indefinite student strike was started in Beijing and the protest spread to over 100 cities across China. At its peak over one million people were occupying the square.
With conflicting demands and with individual students bickering for leadership roles, the students attempted to negotiate with different factions within the Party leadership. In response to the failure of these talks, some students declared a hunger strike and this action galvanised support from other sections of the population.
When workers had initially mobilised, the students had opposed them and attempted to keep them out of the square and away from protests but now workers were organising for themselves. On April 20th the Beijing Autonomous Workers’ Federation was set up, calling for independent trade unions and attacking the corruption of the ruling party. A general strike was called.
It was this movement of workers, not the middle class students, that terrified the capitalist elites of the ‘Communist Party’ and by May 20th martial law was declared and army units sent to Beijing. The army was met by fierce resistance and by May 24th was forced to withdraw to the suburbs. On May 28th, 1.5m people; one quarter of the population, demonstrated in Hong Kong in solidarity.
When the massacre began many military units and commanders refused their orders to attack and there is much evidence that some units fought on the side of the people. At 10 pm on June 4th, tanks and infantry of the 38th army began attacking the centre of Beijing killing many thousands of civilians.
The workers of Beijing fought back with heroic resistance and across the country workers went on strike and rose up in solidarity. However the lack of a unified workers’ leadership eventually lead to defeat.
The ruling party then took vicious revenge, and whilst student leaders were given lighter sentences or allowed to emigrate, hundreds of working people were executed and thousands sent to prison.
Today in 2019 the Chinese people are facing ever higher levels of repression from the Chinese government. Labour activists, striking workers, human rights lawyers and ethnic minorities are routinely arrested and imprisoned and their families punished.
In July last year, workers at Jasic Technology in Shenzen went on strike demanding the right to unionise, the payment of unpaid wages, an end to unsafe working conditions among other demands. Their strike was supported by a network of students across the country. Many of those students were arrested, beaten up and thrown out of university. Several have been imprisoned and some have been disappeared. Many of the original strikers have been imprisoned too.
China Labour Solidarity is demanding their release and the release of all labour activists imprisoned for demanding better conditions for workers. We demand the right of workers to form independent trade unions.
In the winter of 2017 the Chinese government rounded up thousands of migrant workers in Beijing and Shanghai and expelled them from the cities often with only a few hours notice. Migrant workers are Chinese workers who have come from the countryside or smaller cities but who are denied residency permits or any access to health and education services much like refugees in Europe. Their low wages, unsafe working conditions and oppression have been the bedrock of China’s economic expansion.
China Labour Solidarity is demanding an end to the residency permit system so that all Chinese children can receive education and all workers can be safe in their homes free from summary eviction.
The fascist Chinese government, like the Nazis before them, is running concentration camps for ethnic and religious minorities. Some 1-3 million Uigher people alongside muslims from other ethnic minorities are being held in internment camps across Xinjiang. Xinjiang itself is being run like an enormous prison with armed guards at each crossroads and outside every mosque. Uigher families have even been forced to accommodate police agents from the dominant Han ethnicity in their homes.
China Labour Solidarity demands an end to ethnic cleansing and racist concentration camps.
For more information:
Chinese Embassy Picket
49 Portland Place, London W1B 1QL
Saturday June 1st 1pm