IUPUI Releases Newly Digitized Photos Of Tiananmen Square

Previously unseen photos from the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 are being made available on the IUPUI library website.

  • student protestors

    Image 1 of 2

    Photo: Edgar Huang

    Students protest in Tiananment Square in 1989.

  • Protestors sit across from soldiers

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    Photo: Edgar Huang

    Protestors sit across from soldiers in Tiananmen Square.

More than 400 black and white photographs of China’s 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, including the ones above, are being made available through Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis library’s website.

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the military crackdown in Tiananmen Square, which broke up pro-democracy protests and killed hundreds of demonstrators–although the official death toll has never been released.

Edgar Huang, a faculty member from the IU School of Informatics and Computing, took the photos with a Nikon F3 when he was a university instructor and a documentary photographer in Beijing.

He was not there when the actual killings occurred, but Huang’s photos tell the story leading up to that day.

On April 15, 1989, thousands of people began to gather in Tiananmen Square to mourn the death of Hu Yaobang, the ousted general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party.

 

  • tiananmen square filled with mourners

    Image 1 of 2

    Photo: Edgar Huang

    Tiananmen Square filled with mourners.

  • mourning the death of  Hu Yaobang

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    Photo: Edgar Huang

    Mourners remember Hu Yaobang in Tiananmen Square.

The mourning then turned into a series of pro-democracy protests, which were largely led by college students, calling for political reform.

 

  • soldiers at tiananmen square

    Image 1 of 5

    Photo: Edgar Huang

    Protestors face soldiers at Tiananmen Square.

  • soldiers at tiananmen square

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    Photo: Edgar Huang

    Soldiers link arms to face protestors at Tiananmen Square.

  • protest just before june 4, 1989

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    Photo: Edgar Huang

    Tiananmen Square just before June 4, 1989, when the military cracked down on protestors.

  • goddess of democracy

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    Photo: Edgar Huang

    A statue, known as the Goddess of Democracy, was 10 meters tall and displayed during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.

  • protestors

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    Photo: Edgar Huang

    Protestors during the 1989 demonstrations in China.

The protests ended on June 4, 1989, with a bloody crackdown.

After the government crackdown, some of Huang’s negatives were confiscated, but more than 90 percent of his 54 rolls of 36mm film were carefully hidden in different locations in Beijing to avoid possible raids.

Huang’s wife brought the negatives to the United States in 1994, and IUPUI has now digitized them, making them publicly available online.

Meanwhile, NPR reports, China continues to limit the remembrance of the protests by blocking internet pages that mention the square and even going so far as to detain people who are holding private commemorations.

Gretchen Frazee

Gretchen Frazee is a reporter/producer for WFIU and WTIU news. Prior to her current role, Frazee worked as the associate online content coordinator for WFIU/WTIU. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia where she studied multimedia journalism and anthropology. You can follow her on Twitter @gretchenfrazee.

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