In April 1989, university students in Beijing gathered at Tiananmen Square to commemorate the death of the Communist Party chief and political reformer Hu Yaobang. This was the very beginning of the Chinese pro-democracy protests.
20-year-old Jian Liu, a student of fashion design, was there with his camera. He said he was captivated by the protesters and their bold demands for greater freedom and the elimination of corruption, according to The New York Times.
“It made me think that this country would get better and better,” he said.
Over the course of fifty days, he took over 2,000 photographs which amounted to 60 rolls of film.
After keeping the photographs hidden for 30 years, Jian Liu, who now lives in the United States has finally released them to the public with the help of Humanitarian China, a US-based aid organisation.
“The Chinese Communist Party is building a government based on a lie,” he said, according to NYT. “It’s very afraid that more people would know the truth. So I decided to put this out.”
On 4 June 1989, the People’s Liberation Army surrounded the Tiananmen Square and brutally massacred unarmed civilians. Conservative estimates suggest hundreds; others say thousands were killed.
Over the next three decades, the Chinese Government has made every effort to erase the event from history and popular memory. Many in China are now unaware that the massacre ever occurred.
(With inputs from The New York Times)