What is being called “a commemorative candlelight vigil” to remember the 30th Anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre will be held in front of the Los Angeles Chinese Consulate, 443 Shatto Place, at 8:00 PM on June 4th, 2019.
As reported by the BBC, the brutal massacre of “thousands” of protesting citizens, workers and students in Beijing on June 4th, 1989, shocked the world. “For China, it marked a turning point away from the prospect of greater freedom and towards authoritarian oppression.”
Sponsored by the Tokyo Forum and the Visual Artists Guild of Los Angeles, the event will feature 8×9-foot photographs of the massacre taken by Catherine Bauknight who was one of only four photo-journalists on the ground to document the horrific event. Then on assignment for the New York City office of Paris-based Sipa Press, Bauknight will speak for the first time openly about her experiences when the uprising began only 45 minutes after she arrived in the square. She remained in place on the ground, “ … until the bullets began ricocheting at my feet. I stayed as long as I did because many of the young protesters kept motioning for me to stay and photograph the event …’for the free world.'”
“Before I arrived, the student protestors were still handing flowers to the soldiers and what was to happen next is now history. About 15 minutes after a megaphone voice of a soldier warned, ‘Leave the Square or we will shoot to kill,’ the gunfire began.
“Amazingly, the young protestors formed a human tunnel and guided me through it to where the students were being gunned down. Hand after hand guiding me through this tunnel and I wound up near Mao Zedong’s portrait at the entrance of the Imperial City. This was the point in time when I knew it was life threatening but I trusted the looks and sentiment of the wise faces.
“In shock and disbelief, I and another journalist remained in the square photographing and interviewing the students about their first seven weeks of peaceful protesting. Their hope was that America could help free them from Communism and assist in their quest for democracy.
“The images were distributed after risking my life again to get the film out of the country. The word was definitely out among the journalists that the Chinese government did not want any photographs or stories reported about the event. In fact they denied it even happened.
“To me, the question of what democracy is and who has it in the ‘Free World’ today and in China is still an open question and a destiny we all should take seriously and become an active part of the resolution.
“I’ve kept relatively quiet for 30-years because I was aware of the possible repercussions and only now feel free to tell the whole story of what I witnessed and documented. Now with the 30th anniversary, many are revealing their stories about what really happened that fateful night and I’m finally comfortable talking about it.”
Bauknight feels that the many brave Chinese students who risked and lost their lives for democracy is not only significantly important for China but also for today’s America. She says, “Given what’s taking place politically and socially in our own country, I have the great hope that more Americans will wake up to the fact that we can easily lose our own freedoms and rights many take for granted. We should never forget the May 4, 1970, Kent State University massacre when the troops were sent in to quell the Vietnam war protest.”