CHINA. Beijing. May 23, 1989. During the Tiananmen Square protests, the famous portrait of Chairman Mao looking out over the square from the Forbidden City was splattered with paint.

At 2:00pm, May 23, 1989, three young protesters posted banners on the wall of the Tiananmen gate’s passway. The slogans on the banners read Time to End the Five Thousand Years of Autocracy, Time to End the Cult of Personality. Shortly after, they threw eggs filled with pigment at the Portrait of Mao Zedong on the Tiananmen Gate. The three perpetrators, Yu Dongyue,

Lu Decheng and

Yu Zhijian, received sentences ranging from 16 years in jail to life imprisonment. After decades in jail, where they were tortured (among other human rights violations), the three of them were released on bail and managed to escape the country. All of them managed to obtain political asylum in either the US or Canada.

Photograph: Mark Avery/AP


(“Where are you going?”)

“I’m going to Tiananmen square.”


“Because It’s my duty.”

Duty is a powerful thing. It is not a sense of obligation towards the government or the state, but to your country, or county, or even your community. These young men and women were patriots, eager to fight with words and their very presence against tyranny.

31 years ago, we remember the Tiananmen Square Massacre, and the government still in power that deemed them enemies of the state and tried to make them disappear.