On June 5, 1989, China Youth Daily printed a wanted list of student leaders and reports of arrests around the country. Photo Credit: 64memo.com
On April 15, 1989, Hu Yaobang passed away in Beijing. Hu served as general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party from 1982 until he was forced out by paramount leader Deng Xiaoping and other powerful party elders in 1987. Hu was seen by his opponents as soft on student protests in eastern China in late 1986 and early 1987 (the protests generally called for democratic reforms), and as far too tolerant of the aspirations of Tibetans, Uyghurs, and Mongolians for greater ethnic autonomy and cultural-heritage protections.
A week after Hu’s death, tens of thousands of students, some travelling from other provinces, marched to Tiananmen Square in Beijing to hold a memorial service. The memorial turned into an occupation, and the initial group of students swelled with thousands more students, workers, government cadres, journalists, and other citizens. From April 15 to June 24, China’s capital was paralyzed as the party and government grappled with mounting protests over various complaints including poor conditions in colleges and factories, inflation, nepotism, the slow pace of reforms, and stifling censorship.
Although party leaders initially adopted a conciliatory stance, hardliners gradually prevailed. Martial law was declared in Beijing on May 20. Then, on the evening of June 3, 1989, China’s leaders ordered troops to clear the square. Pitched battles between troops and citizens erupted all over the city. Thousands were detained and hundreds were killed.
Because of the scale of the protests and the presence of a large foreign press corps, the suppression in Beijing has been relatively well reported (that said, much remains unknown, including who gave the order to open fire on the protesters and how many people were actually killed, wounded, and detained). Less well reported is information on protests that took place in hundreds of other cities throughout the country during the same period. Protests started in April and lasted, in many places, until late June. Many demonstrations were non-violent, but violence resulting in considerable property damage took place in scores of cities, large and small. Attacks on police and on government buildings reached their peak as news spread of the killings in Beijing.
China’s police and other elements of the judiciary refer to the spring 1989 protests as “counterrevolutionary rioting.” Disturbances in Beijing after martial law was declared and disturbances in other cities are known as the “two disturbances.” Of the thousands who were detained nationwide, about 1,600 went to prison (known as “two disturbances” prisoners). At least 20 people were executed, including four protesters who attacked the railroad leading into Shanghai, according to Dui Hua’s Political Prisoner Database. Many others served months and years in detention centers and in reeducation through labor camps.
Through its open source research, Dui Hua has collected scores of official accounts of the spring 1989 protests in cities across China. Starting this month, with excerpts from a public security record from Baoji, Shaanxi Province, we will publish a series of translations of detailed accounts of the disturbances.
Baoji is a city of 3.5 million people approximately 800 miles from Beijing. The disturbances there lasted for more than six weeks and involved demands from different sectors, including local Muslims calling for a ban on pornographic publications. The situation was eventually brought under control, but only after 116 individuals were detained in 94 criminal cases involving the two disturbances and itinerant crime. The account indicates that injuries occurred in the city.
Weibin Public Security Records: click to expand
Weibin Public Security Records
pp. 30, 32, 212
On June 15, the [Weibin District Public Security] Branch aimed to deter counterrevolutionary rioting [sparked by] the incident in Beijing. In Weibin District, some lawbreakers openly spread counterrevolutionary propaganda; posted reactionary slogans; distributed reactionary leaflets; and spread rumors to incite uninformed students and masses to attack party, government, and military organs and newspaper, radio, and television outlets. They also instigated strikes among workers, students, and business owners. They sieged and insulted the People’s Liberation Army, armed police, and public security police and blocked the main traffic junctions in the city and overturned and smashed vehicles causing serious social unrest. In order to eradicate the turmoil, to maintain social order, to protect national interests and the livelihoods and property of the masses, and to defend the reform and opening up and socialist modernization, the branch resolutely acted in accordance with [Baoji] Public Security Bureau’s notice to suppress counterrevolutionary rioting by calling on all party members and police to immediately take action to make positive contributions to ending the political turmoil by staying on duty around the clock in order to stabilize the situation.
Around 10 pm on June 22, the branch’s political commissar Niu Weimin led police to work for five consecutive hours and captured criminal Li Yajun, who was harboring “Xi'an Students’ Autonomous Federation” head Xue Yan, and seized a counterrevolutionary tape recording.
July 12 is “National United Action Day to Strike Against Itinerant Crime and Ferret Out ‘Two Disturbances’ Elements.” More than 700 officers from the [Weibin’s] public security, procuratorial, judicial, industrial and commercial, and civil affairs departments and [Baoji Public Security Bureau’s] people’s police and military police joined forces and arrested 116 people who committed various illegal acts, investigated and solved 94 criminal cases ([including] 13 major cases). Eighteen stolen bikes, 720 grams of drugs, and a large amount of stolen goods and money were seized.
On August 21, rioter Lin Peng (male, 26, university graduate, editor of Western Qin Literature), who once created a disturbance in [Baoji] and viciously attacked the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the socialist system, was detained for interrogation.
Between the spring and summer of 1989, counterrevolutionary political rioting occurred in Beijing and quickly spread to other parts of the country, including Baoji. Since May 4, some college students in Baoji were protesting in the streets. The number of student protesters grew exponentially; they paraded and gave speeches along Jing Er Road in Weibin District and forced their way onto trains to Beijing to support students who were holding a hunger strike there. On May 18, more than a thousand Muslims in the [Baoji] area raised banners and waved colored flags, strongly urging the government to ban pornographic publications and to severely punish the authors of the book Sex Custom. On the same day, about 5,000 people, including students from Baoji Normal School, Baoji College of Education, the Ministry of Railways Baoji Engineering Machinery Factory Technical School, and some local media and arts and culture professionals marched on the streets to express support for the students’ hunger striking in Beijing. On May 22, the Party Committee of the Baoji Public Security Bureau issued a call to action, urging all party members and police officers to take immediate action to suppress the political turmoil by staying on duty around the clock and paying close attention to the situation. On June 3, some students from Baoji Normal University took to the streets holding wreaths and gathered at the gate of Hebin Park. On June 4, more than 10,000 protesters and onlookers blocked the intersection of Hongqi Road bringing traffic to a standstill. Some uninformed students and masses attacked party, government, and military organs as well as newspapers, radio, and television stations and other vital institutions. Some criminals had snuck into the protest rally to block and attack military vehicles; they smashed and overturned 15 military police and passing vehicles, and burned a police motorcycle. A traffic barrier had been moved to the center of the road and was hit and bent. Street lights on both sides of the road were knocked down, and many police and security personnel were injured. On June 15, the [Baoji] Public Security Bureau, in consideration of political counterrevolutionary rioting in Beijing and the actual situation in Baoji, issued an announcement to suppress the turmoil. The entire police force of the Weibin District Public Security Branch posted notices to disseminate messages and to capture information. The bureau sent police to colleges in the Weibin District to stop the unrest, to implement ideological and political work for stabilizing the situation, and to secretly collect evidence of some lawbreakers spreading counterrevolutionary propaganda and inciting uninformed students and masses to attack party, government, military, and news agencies. The Baoji detachment of the Chinese People’s Armed Police deployed 250 soldiers to guard the [municipal offices of the] party committee, government, people’s congress, Chinese people’s political consultative congress as well as newspapers, local radio and television stations, and other vital institutions. In putting down the unrest, Weibin public security staff had to bear humiliation, being sworn at and hit without ever striking back. They managed to maintain order and avoid stampedes. Guided and directed by the propaganda of the central, provincial, and municipal media and with the positive contributions of police cadres, armed police, and masses throughout the city, the counterrevolutionary political turmoil that occurred between the spring and summer of 1989 came to a complete end on June 20. On July 6 of the same year, the Baoji party committee and municipal government held a grand ceremony in the hall of the municipal assembly to commend and reward outstanding collectives and individuals who contributed to suppressing the turmoil and maintaining social order. The Weibin District Public Security Branch and 26 outstanding units and individuals were on the merit list.
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1989年春夏之交，北京发生反革命政治暴乱，迅速波及全国各地，宝鸡也不例外， 5月4日以来，宝鸡市部分院校学生上街游行。学生游行队伍人数与日俱增，沿渭滨经二路大街演讲，强行乘火车进京声援北京学生绝食。5月18日，市区穆斯林教徒千余人打着横幅、手举彩色小旗，强烈要求政府取缔淫秽刊物，严惩《性风俗》一书的作者。同日，宝鸡师范学校，宝鸡教育学院，铁道部宝鸡工程机械厂技校和宝鸡部分新闻、文化、艺术工作者约5000余人上街游行，声援北京学生绝食。5月22日，中共宝鸡市公安局党组发出号召，要求全体党员、公安干警立即行动起来，为制止政治动乱，坚持24小时值班，密切注视动向。6月3日，宝鸡师范学院部分学生抬着花圈上街游行，并在河滨公园门口集会。6月4日，红旗路交叉十字被游行队伍和大批群众约万余人围得水泄不通，导致交通中断，有一些不明真相的学生和群众冲击党政军机关、报社、电台、电视台等要害部门。有一些歹徒混入队伍之中，堵截围攻军用车辆，打砸掀翻军警车辆和过往车辆15 辆，烧毁警用摩托车1 辆，交通护栏被挪置道路中央撞弯变形，道路两侧路灯被击落，武警官兵公安干警多人被打伤。6月15日，市公安局针对北京发生的反革命政治暴乱，结合宝鸡市实际情况，发出制止动乱的通告。公安渭滨分局全体民警张贴通告，宣传通告精神，捕捉信息，派干警前往渭滨辖地的院校作制止动乱，稳定局势的思想政治工作，并对一些不法分子采取秘密取证，收集他们进行反革命宣传，煽动不明真相学生和群众冲击党政军新闻单位等的证据。中国人民武装警察宝鸡市支队抽调250名官兵，分别守卫在中共宝鸡市委、市政府、市人大、市政协、报社、市电台、电视台等要害部门岗位上。在处置动乱中渭滨公安人员做到忍辱负重，骂不还口，打不还手，维护现场秩序，防止踩踏事故发生。八九春夏之交发生在宝鸡市区的反革命政治动乱，在中央、省、市及新闻媒体的宣传引导下，在全市广大公安干警、武警官兵及广大群众的积极工作下，止6月20日圆满制止。同年7 月6日，中共宝鸡市委、市政府在市委会议厅隆重召开大会，表彰奖励制止动乱，维护社会治安工作中涌现出的先进集体和个人，公安渭滨分局和26名制止动乱先进单位和个人榜上有名。