Photographer Reveals Photos From Tiananmen Protest to Commemorate 30th Anniversary

SAN FRANCISCO—Display boards showed photos of people holding banners with handwritten Chinese messages. Some looked distressed and others looked gruesome. These photos stopped people passing through Portsmouth Square in San Francisco, curious to learn more.

On May 27, Bay Area residents gathered in Chinatown to commemorate the June 4 incident in Tiananmen Square 30 years ago.

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Jian Liu displayed some of his 2,000 photos for the pubic to see in San Francisco Chinatown on May 27, 2019. (Ilene Eng/NTD)
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Fang Zheng lost both his legs during the Tiananmen protest in 1989. (Ilene Eng/NTD)

Jian Liu was a 21-year-old student in Beijing at the time. He took about 2,000 photos documenting the entire episode.

“I only decided to take them out this year. These photos are more like debts to prove what happened. These need to be returned.”

In 1989, students protested in Tiananmen Square to bring democracy to China in the hope of giving their country a better future. However, the government gunned them down.

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People stopped to learn more about the protest at the exhibit in Portsmouth Square in San Francisco on May 27, 2019. (Ilene Eng/NTD)

Inside China, the topic is rarely brought up, and people cannot easily learn about it online. Over time, people have even forgotten what happened, especially the younger generation.

Liu mentioned his 18-year-old daughter who has no concept of the date’s importance.

“Our concept of June 4 is [that it is] a significant event. It’s a noun. But in her mind, it is just another date on the calendar. She doesn’t know what June 4 is at all,” said Liu. “So I feel like I should let more people know.”

Frank Whitby, a tourist from Texas, happened to stumble on the exhibit. He recalled seeing the events on television, and had expected the Chinese government to react that way. However, he learned something interesting when he traveled to China one year.

“When we visited China, I was surprised that young people had no knowledge of the event whatsoever. Or certainly they didn’t profess to having any knowledge of it,” said Whitby.

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Every year, Bay Area residents clean the replica of the Goddess of Democracy in Portsmouth Square, San Francisco, on May 27, 2019. (Ilene Eng/NTD)

Fang Zheng was also a student at the time. He lost his legs when a tank ran over him. He commemorates the event every year.

“The June 4 massacre never ended. Why? Because people involved with the protests are still being persecuted in large numbers,” said Zheng. “Just two years ago, a person was arrested for just mentioning or wanting to commemorate June 4.”

Every year local San Francisco residents polish the Goddess of DemocraOn May 27, Bay Area residents gathered in Chinatown to commemorate the June 4 incident in Tiananmen Square 30 years ago.cy, a replica of the original statue created to commemorate the protests in 1989.

“We all saw it [the statue] built together,” said Liu. “To be here today, I’m very moved.”