martial law

Photo of the Day

Images of the protest on the Internet have been censored in China. A wider shot by Stuart Franklin showing column of tanks approaching Tank Man, who is shown near the lower-left corner. A column of T59 People’s Liberation Army tanks makes its way from Tiananmen Square over Chang’an Avenue, Beijing. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Magnum

Tank Man

The Unknown Rebel

Twenty-eight years ago today, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) violently cleared Beijing’s Tiananmen Square (Tiananmen means “gate of heavenly peace”) of protesters, ending a six-week demonstration that had called for democracy and widespread political reform. The protests began in April of 1989, gaining support as initial government reactions included concessions. Martial law was declared on May 20, troops were mobilised, and from the night of June 3 through the early morning of June 4, the PLA pushed into Tiananmen Square, crushing some protesters and firing on many others. The exact number killed may never be known.

A day after Chinese military killed at least hundreds, if not thousands of demonstrators, a wiry man in a white shirt stepped in front of a line of moving tanks near Tiananmen Square and become one of the most famous protesters of the 20th century. The man blocked the path of the tanks, even as they gunned their engines. He climbed onto the first tank, pounded on the hatchet, and appeared to speak to the soldiers inside.?When he stepped back down in front of the tank, two men ran into the street and pulled him away. The confrontation became one of the most enduring images of the pro-democracy, anti-corruption protests that swept China that spring and summer.

All these years later, his identity is still a mystery. He is called simply Tank Man.

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Fiji ending martial law

Frank Bainimarama is making progress in Fiji despite the best efforts of New Zealand and Australia to hinder his every step. He has announced that martial law will cease on 7 January.

Bainimarama, who seized power in a military coup in 2006, says he will hold elections in 2014.

He claimed that the existing voting system was racially based with indigenous Fijians having greater voting power than the ethnic Indians who make up around 35 per cent of the 900,000 people.

He said Fiji had been mismanaged and hindered by greed and selfishness.

“You and I must not allow a few to dictate the destiny of our country for their own selfish needs,” he said.

He warned features of a new constitution will be non-negotiable.

“The constitution must establish a government that is founded on an electoral system that guarantees equal suffrage ? a truly democratic system based on the principle of one person, one vote, one value.

“We will not have a system that will classify Fijians based on ethnicity….”

Consultation would begin next month: “To facilitate this consultation process, the Public Emergency Regulations will cease from 7 January 2012.”

Sounds like he?s doing better than New Zealand to remove racism from politics.