FASS News, Research

The untold history of the Tiananmen Square protests

June 01, 2022

June 4 marks the 33rd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests and massacre. The events leading up to and culminating in these protests and crackdowns are often referred to through a western-centric lens—but Simon Fraser University Department of History Professor Jeremy Brown seeks to offer new perspectives with his recent book, “June Fourth: The Tiananmen Protests and Beijing Massacre of 1989.”

This year marks the 33rd anniversary of the public demonstrations in Tiananmen Square and subsequent massacre in Beijing on June 4, 1989. The student-led protests saw over a million people gather in the square, until the government declared martial law and more than 180,000 army troops moved in. Thousands of civilians—some of them students—were killed. 

The events leading up to and culminating in the Tiananmen Square protests and crackdowns are often referred to through a western-centric lens as China’s Democracy Movement, with an emphasis on whether the violent suppression of protestors was necessary. At the time, the Chinese government deemed the peaceful gatherings turmoil and it still forbids discussing or commemorating June 4—extreme censorship that makes it even more difficult to gain insights into this moment in time.

Simon Fraser University (SFU) History Professor Jeremy Brown recognizes the complexities of this time period and wants to change the way China’s history is understood. Brown is a historian of modern China, an award-winning professor and Chair of SFU’s History department. His book, June Fourth: The Tiananmen Protests and Beijing Massacre of 1989, sheds new light on what happened in 1989 and why.

Print