TheTiananmen Square protest began in the mid-April 1989. During thatperiod, students started to demonstrate and protest in Beijing, atthe Tiananmen Squared. The protest demanded the end to officialcorruption and called for political and democratic reforms. Thesedemands evoked widespread popular support to other major cities inChina. Their demonstrations and protests were peaceful and in goodorder. However, in early June when they gathered for thedemonstration, the People’s Liberation Army of China used tanks andopen fire against the students, resulting in at least seven thousandcasualties (Kau and Marsh, 85). Kau and Marsh add that the ChineseCommunist government later justified its use of lethal forces bycharacterizing the democratic movement as a ‘counterrevolutionaryrebellion.`
Onthe other hand, Pussy Riot is a self-proclaimed feminist punk groupformed in August 2011. The Moscow based project, Pussy Riot, iscomposed of a group young women who compose and perform songs thataddress feminism, gay rights, as well as, contemporary social andpolitical policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin (Dodds, 70).According to Dodds, the Pussy Riot group is particularly scathing ofthe connections between the Russian government and the OrthodoxChurch and contends that the two sustain a politically and culturallyrepressive culture, which tends to oppress citizens judged tothreaten national ideals. The popularity of the groups has grownoutside Russia as a result of the March 2012 arrest of the threemembers of the group, after a live performance at the MoscowCathedral. These group members were accused of hooliganism andaccused of stirring religious hatred. This research paper will focuson the Tiananmen Square protest in 1989 and Pussy Riot, as well asanalyze their relevance in today’s world.
PussyRiot and Tiananmen Square protest in 1989
PussyRiot was created partly as a reaction to the Russian President,Vladimir Putin, announcement that he would be running for anotherterm of presidency. Their group’s main agenda was based onfeminism, anti-Putinism and radical decentralization of the organs ofpower, as well as, the relocation of Russian Capital to EasternSiberia among others (Goddard et al., 127). The punk group believedthat using music as a form of protest would help to achieve lastingchange. Conversely, the government viewed their songs as thoseviolating the moral integrity of the state by mocking the presidentand the credibility of the presidential elections. For this reason,In February 2012, the all-female punk band was arrested forperforming an unauthorized “Punk Prayer," which was a diatribeagainst Vladimir Putin, which took place in the Cathedral of Christthe Savior, in Moscow.
Thearrest and sentencing of the members of Pussy Riot attractedwidespread attention and criticism, as most people perceived it as anoverreaction by the Russian authorities. President Putin condemnedand accused women of undermining the moral foundations of the nationby advocating for gay and bisexual rights, and political policiesamong others. Some classified the group’s performance asdisturbance of the public order and as an act of cultural terrorism,which became the main basis for their verdict. As a result, theRussian authorities felt that the band gave voice to the growingfrustration of the government. The action of the Russian authorityagainst the Punk group has caused a worldwide outrage, and an ongoingdebate. After the arrest of the three band member, one woman wasacquitted, but the other two received a two-year jail sentence forhooliganism.
ThePussy Riot incident is a historical event that reminds readers of theease with which religious authorities are cooped in authoritarianstates to suppress dissent. Most of the videos posted onlinecriticized both the Russian Orthodox Church patriarch and thepresident. For the all-female punk group to stand forth as feministactivists in contemporary Russia is, in itself courageous. Thecourageous nature of the Pussy Riot project, today, is seen throughtheir open support of gay activism, the risks they took to stageperformances, and their courage to face fierce government reactionsthat brought upon them arrest (Goddard, 128). Furthermore, the pussyriot affair is relevant because the three arrested women claimed tohave a feminist message, which was rare in the Russian history.
ThePussy Riot members the establishment and implementation of new rulesand policies in Russia through their activism. The band passedmessages that they argued protested partly concerning the growingpower of the Orthodox Church in public life, and a reaction againstPutin’s policies towards women. By the end of the year 2011, newrules including access to abortion, gay rights and other policiesthat affected women were passed into Russian law. Surprisingly, theRussian Orthodox Church is said to have advocated for the proposalsregarding abortion prior to passage of the law. Today, Russia hascontinued to transition by embracing fewer democratic elements.Although the government has made slow progress in some areas of womensocial right, most young women are finding their ways to expresstheir desire to see government policies that include them ascitizens.
TheTiananmen Square Protest of 1989 was triggered by the death of theformer party general secretary, Hu Yaobang. Hu was viewed as a personwho was liberal-minded and, therefore, Deng Xiaoping forced him toresign from his current position. His demise sparked the small scaleprotests that began in the form of morning in mid April 1989. Theprotesters also demanded that the party should revise their officialview of him. Later, protests gained momentum, and by April 18th,more than ten thousand students demonstrators staged a sit-in onTiananmen, while few thousands gathered on the same day evening infront of Zhongnanhai demanding to see government leaders (Perkins,523). Seen that their request was in vain, the students furthercalled for a strike in campuses from April 21st to 23rd. Perkinsargues that the protest evoked memories of the Tiananmen Squareprotests of 1976. Fearing that the events were spiraling out ofcontrol, Chinese authorities mobilized the People’s Liberation Armyand ordered the violent dispersal of the protestors. This lefthundreds dead and thousands injured when the military used tanks andarmored vehicles to mow down the hapless protestors.
HuYaobang was a symbol of democratic and political reform to theChinese students. The students led academics, labor leaders andintellectuals among other into the Tiananmen Square in CentralBeijing to demonstrate for democracy and protest against corruption.Several years before the demonstration, freedom of speech and otherdemocratic beliefs were espoused on university campuses. For thisreason, an increasing number of China youths began to demandpolitical and democratic reforms. These students found a sympathizer,Hu Yaobang, who despite receiving criticism from various governmentconservatives, adhered to liberal views, especially on freedom ofexpression. Hu was then removed in the office because of his strongrelation with students, and his support of their demands forpolitical reform. This led to his demise followed by the 1989Tiananmen Square massacre.
Theprinciple demands of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations werepolitical and economic reforms, freedom, human rights and democracyin order to bring an end to government corruption. The ChineseCommunist Party has been gradually introducing reforms to rebuild andmodernize China after the Tiananmen Square incident. However, Kern(126) points out that China is still under fire for censorship andhas a continued lack of democratic reforms. Kerns adds that, in thedemocratic and political reforms, China does not seem much fartherahead that in was during the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. On theother economic reforms may have diminished the government’s controlover people’s employment, but CCP remains the country’s solepolitical power. According to Kern (126), the CCP leaders point outthat China would never adopt a multi-party political system, as oneparty system is superior to the democratic system.
Inconclusion, the Pussy Riot and Tiananmen Square protest in 1989 arecrucial events in the history of Russian and China respectively.These incidences received much criticism as both the Pussy Riotmembers and Chinese student demonstrator were suppressed by thegovernment, an action that shocked the world for the evidentbrutality. However, the two incidences have left a trace in bothcountries, as they were significant in that the Russian and Chinesepeople began to discard their traditional roundabout by calling fordemocracy, human rights, feminism, freedom, and political andeconomic reforms, which brought an end to dictatorship of the ChineseCommunist Party and authoritarian regime in Russia.
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Goddard,Michael, Benjamin Halligan, and Nicola Spelman. Resonances:Noise and contemporary music.New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013. Print.
Kau,Michael Y. M., and Susan H. Marsh. Chinain the Era of Deng Xiaoping: A Decade of Reform.Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1993. Print.
Kerns,Anne. WhoWill Shout If Not Us?: Student Activists and the Tiananmen SquareProtest, China, 1989.Jefferson, N.C.: Twenty-First Century Books, 2010. Print.
Perkins,Dorothy. Encyclopediaof China: History and Culture.New York: Routledge, 2013. Print.