Tuesday, August 11, 2009

China's Tank Man and the collapse of Communism..





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1989! Tiananmen Square, China. Did we forget?.
December 31 1988, at 11:59.57, in Times Square. A crowd is gathered, people are screaming and yelling. Then, the count down 3,2,1… midnight! Happy New Year! Everyone jubilates, embraces, chants and dances in the street and all over New York… it is 1989, a brand new year.
What can American wish for? Prosper in their enterprise, success, riches? What can we ask for? Liberty? Justice? Freedom? Written in the constitution, all of these essentials to human life were given to us as a birth-right. The last pillar of injustice was removed during the civil rights movement when thousands gathered in the name of justice to demonstrate for the end of segregation in the South.
We are the good people, the heroes of WWII, then, in our wake there are the other countries, under ruled by tyrants, where individuality is suppressed, for the benefit of the collectivity. The survival of the community passes before the individual " Communism ". After WWII , the Super Powers— the Soviet Union and the United States— engaged in a new war; “The Cold War”. The war was no longer in the open but now each side supported opposite factions to promote their opposing interests in the world. Everything was a covert operation, or in another word, espionage.
On television the news were about George H. W, Bush 41st president of the United States, Soviet troops leaving Afghanistan after nine years of fight the world called their Vietnam, Mikhail Gorbachev Leader of the Soviet Union slowly was opening the doors of his country to International dialogue and to reforms.
Was it the end of China’s old regime?
It is then the China's leaders realized the gravity of the situation. Marshal Law was immediately ordered in Beijing,massive force were sent to restore order. The army and the convoys were met by blockades. After 4 days stand off, the army had to retreat. Before such an humiliation before the world, the government retaliated back by mobilizing three hundred thousand soldiers from military districts from all over China. Their orders were that Tienanmen Square had to be cleared by dawn.
This time tanks ran over the barricades; the soldiers fired in the unarmed crowd. The confrontation lasted all through the night, thousands were killed, thousands were wounded and thousands held a last stand of the steps of the People's Heroes Monument, rivers of soldiers deployed to the Square, the civilians expected to be killed but the officers gave them amnesty if they did leave peacefully. They left... By dawn the army had cleared the Square.
On June 5th the army had complete control of the city. The people's voice had been silenced. Then the unexpected happened, early that morning, people resumed their lives, side walks was bustling with pedestrian going to work and on the main avenue a column of 20 tanks paraded, zigzagging, letting the population know that they had lost. Then the unexpected happened, out of nowhere one man stood in the middle of the avenue,
white shirt, dark pants, bags in his hands. Gun shot was then fired from the convoy, onlookers hide and ran away. This young man stopped the convoy, no one knew who he was, a student? a parent? For several minutes, we saw him gesticulate, what was he saying? … The night before, thousands were demonstrating for reform; today in spite of the massacre, one man alone faced a column of tank. That man became a symbol of hope for all those who had been silenced. That image became the icon of freedom and hope in the international arena.
Slowly, we saw more common individuals rising up with new found strength to protest for new reforms around the world. Before the end of the year Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, then still occupied by the Soviet Union joined hands, forming an uninterrupted 600 kilometer human chain, to demand freedom and independence. In November, the government of East Germany resigned and the Berlin wall was brought down. Czechoslovakia’s student demonstrated for revolution and the overthrow of the communist government. Then the Romanian Revolution ends its communist dictatorship. And on December 3 off of the coast of Malta, G.H.W Bush and Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev release statements indicating that the Cold War between their nations may come to an end. By the end of the year the Iron curtain is lifting and the Cold War began to disappear.
Liberty, Justice, and Freedom are written into our constitution and bestowed unto us today by those who gave their live for it. What would we fight for, what right would you die for? One man stood on front of a whole convoy of tanks, ready to give his life. To die rather then live under oppression, corruption and injustice, He was the voice of all the people who die, that they did not die in vain.
Today, 20 years later, the communist Soviet Union doesn’t excite, Russia has lifted the Iron Curtain, the Berlin Wall was torn to pieces, and China is still a communist country but has joined 21st century global economies. Now the Cold War is not a looming threat but a textbook chapter for students. Today, the world has new foes.
World Peace is just a dream. But as long as there will be Tank Man, democracy and freedom will be won one country at a time.

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