Remembering the Tiananmen Square Massacre

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit Avila (The Freeman) - June 5, 2020 - 12:00am

Today is a holiday for freedom-loving Chinese people living in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Yes I’m referring to the Chinese people who for so many centuries led the entire world in terms of culture, philosophy, and food.

Thirty-one years ago, together with five Filipino journalists were invited by the People’s Press organization to visit China around April of 1989. However that visit was abruptly cancelled because of pro-democracy demonstrations. This was triggered by the death of Hu Yaobang a pro-reform Communist Chinese general secretary. So my first-ever foreign trip as a journalist was cancelled due to the huge pro-democracy protests. The protests started on April 15 and were forcibly suppressed on June 4 when the government declared martial law and sent the military to occupy central parts of Beijing in what became known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

It was also a time when CNN was the only organization on satellite TV. Yes, we saw that Chinese man in the main street of Beijing who stopped a long line of tanks. This was a great picture of bravery. There was even a statue of Liberty that the protesters erected. But on June 4, Deng Xiaopeng sent 300,000 troops to quell the rebellion…and how many died in the process is still a state secret today.

What happened in Tiananmen Square we can only speculate as the Chinese soldiers harassed the protesters inside the square where many protesters were killed and quietly buried. The international community, human rights organizations, and political analysts condemned the Chinese government for the massacre. Western nations imposed an arms embargo on China. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) made widespread arrests of protesters and their supporters, suppressed other protests around China, expelled foreign journalists, strictly controlled coverage of the events in the domestic press, strengthened the police and internal security forces, and demoted or purged officials it deemed sympathetic to the protests.             

The reason for the protest was supposed to put an end to the corruption within the CCP, a fight for freedom of speech and freedom of the press, but the CCP did not want this happening within their politburo so the CCP used force to quell the rebellion. That was 31 years ago. Then a month later, myself and fellow journalists Conrad Banal, Nona Ocampo, and Noel Velasco were suddenly invited to China again by the All China Journalist Association and we went to China a month after the Tiananmen Square incident and stayed there for a month. These days, 31 years later, the CCP is still up to its old tricks and if you looked at what is happening in Hong Kong today, the CCP forced them to accept a National Security Act, which in reality has put an end to the Chinese One China Two Systems policy. What will happen to Hong Kong is something we would have to see in the very near future.

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Last year in October 2019 a few members of the Cebu media were invited by AboitizPower to Davao City and one of the things that they showed us was the Philippine Eagle Center where they kept Pangarap, an Eagle that AboitizPower has sponsored and kept. If I’m writing on this program by AboitizPower, it is due to the fact that this week we celebrate Philippine Eagle Week.

For the past 10 years, AboitizPower has adopted and sponsored a particular eagle, Pangarap, who serves as a beacon of hope for the conservation of the Philippine bird of prey. Pangarap is one of the few females left of her species who is eligible for breeding, now through artificial insemination. Through AboitizPower’s adoption, which has amounted to around P1.5 million over the past decade, Pangarap is able to receive necessary medication and care, as well as proper dieting and preparation for breeding, courtesy of the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) in Davao.

Pangarap celebrated her 21st hatchday earlier this year on February 24. AboitizPower, in partnership with PEF, held a hatchday event for over 50 students and guests to witness and learn about the majestic species housed at the Philippine Eagle Center in Malagos, Davao City. I’m proud to say that I have a photograph with Pangarap when we visited the eagle conservation area in Davao City.

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