In 1989 from the 5th to the 10th of June, 181 cities in China lived in the aftermath of the violent suppression in the emblematic Tiananmen Square. This was the last Cold-War major Soviet-Type pur-et-dur intervention after Budapest in 1956 and Prague in 1968. It also was the first Post Cold War “square” based pro-democracy and pro-changement protest. Since this “yellow” revolution the world has seen a fare number of “squares” and “springs”, but the extent and the brutality of force applied in such short period from state forces in those tree crackdowns, remains unmatched.
The anniversary of the death in 15 April 1989 of the Hu Yaobang the reformist Communist Party secretary purged for his “bourgeois” leanings, was the sparking event that led to the release into the streets of Beijing of armored vehicles and battle tanks. The death toll was between hundreds and thousands, the exact number never to be known because of the official censorship mandated by the Chinese Ministry of Truth. Deng Xiaoping (whose name in mandarin is homophonous with “little bottle”), was at the helm of the Communist Party, where he remained until his death in 1997. The name and the fate of the famous person who stood before the tank column never became public
In 1953 Stalin’s death and the rupture-with-the pass rhetoric of the new Soviet Premier Khrushchev in 1956, fueled the expectation of change in Eastern Europe. On October 1956, students and workers took the streets of Budapest and issued their Sixteen Point demanding freedom of expression and loosening from the Soviet jug. Ime Nagy, the prime minister after allowing political parties to start again, pushed more declaring it’s intention to withdraw Hungary from the Warsaw Pact. On November 4th Soviet tanks went into Budapest to restore order. The price paid from the contestants, was at the scale of 30.000 killed, numerous wounded, whilst hundred of thousands fled the country. Nagy was tried, executed and buried in an unmarked grave. Social Pax-Sovietica was restored.
In 1968 the government of Czechoslovakia led by Alexander Dubcek seemingly wanted to democratize the nation and lessen the stranglehold of Moscow, by implementing a program of reforms, constitutional amendments proposals, agricultural production liberation and the respite of press censorship. Despite Dubcek reassurance toward Moscow that Czechoslovakia would remain in the Warsaw Pact, on the night of August 20th/21st Warsaw Pact invaded the country. Dubcek was arrested, send to Moscow for “comradely” talk, returned in Prague as a First Secretary, but in April 1969 was sucked.
The reaction of the west was not in all tree cases was, for different reasons, to put leniently, mild. During the years that followed the brutality of the suppression was lost in the anti-west rhetoric, the socialist/communist Wanna Be and the demonization of the west. However remains important to honor the victims but also remember the perpetrators.