April 1989

The Tian An Men Square demonstrations began on April 15, 1989 with the death of Hu Yaobang. Hu, a former General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had became a hero to the people when he refused to stop the student demonstrations in 1987. Many students believed that the loss of his moderate voice in the party would end reforms.

The first wreath appeared in Tian An Men Square the morning after his death. The next day, Monday the 17, two more wreaths were added to the first. People around the country gathered to commemorate him and voice their desire for continued reforms. Then on the 18, the demonstrations erupted in earnest. Thousand of people filled the Square surrounding the Monument of the People's Heroes and continued to lay wreaths.

On April 20 1989, three students started a petition, demanding a meeting with Premier Li Peng. Denied, the three students, joined by 100,000 other students, kneeled on the steps of the Great Hall of People overnight. The students used Hu's official memorial service on April 22 not only to pay the final tribute to Hu, but also to criticize the government. During the memorial, violence broke out between the people and the local police. Citizens were beaten so badly that some died.

Students began strikes on April 24. Two days later, the People's Daily, the national Communist controlled newspaper, published an editorial, "It is necessary to take a clear-cut stand against disturbances," saying that the students were planning to overthrow the government. In protest to this article, students took to the streets three days later, calling the article false. The protest ended peacefully after the government conceded to have a meeting with the students. The 3-hour talk was held on the April 29. The conference, however, did not satisfy the students. They created another petition requesting another conversation with government officials.