The Tiananmen Square massacre and its legacy
'The woman who had these photos didn't realise their importance. I did.'
In 2007, I met a woman on a train, and we started talking about Tiananmen. She showed me her family’s photo album. Her husband, a soldier, was sent to Tiananmen in 1989. He took these photos on June 5, 1989, the day after the massacre. She didn’t tell me much more than that. I think she didn’t realise that what were just a few snapshots in a family album to her was is proof for many others of the violence that took place on that fateful day. I realized how important this was, so I asked her if she would give me her photos. She refused, so instead I took pictures of them.She told me that many soldiers who had participated in the massacre were never given public sector jobs, as was generally the tradition in this communist system. I imagine the authorities were very worried that after what they had seen and done, these soldiers might actually end up defending democracy.
"Thirty minutes after I posted the photos on Weibo, the site deleted them"I published these photos for the first time in 2009 on Twitter [which is impossible to access in China without using a proxy server] on the occasion of the massacre’s 20th anniversary. At the time, only a few people noticed them. This year, I reposted them on Flickr and Twitpic, and now lots of people are talking about them. Social networks work in mysterious ways!I also posted them on Sina Weibo [the Chinese equivalent of Twitter] yesterday. Many users immediately reposted them. But 30 minutes later, the site deleted all the posts.The government’s propaganda has managed to convince many people that nothing happened at Tiananmen. By publishing these photos, I wanted to prove that a bloody crackdown indeed took place on June 4, 1989.