As we’ve seen in Egypt, it takes staggering numbers of people mobilizing to organize and execute the ousting of an oppressive government. But this kind of action is impossible in a state where it is illegal to simply meet in private and discuss politics.
On July 4, 2013, Reddit user tianamenthrowaway posted an album of photos of an impromptu protest in the historic Tiananmen Square. Here are the photos he took, accompanied by descriptions describing the scene.
“Snapping pics of The Gate of Heavenly Peace when suddenly about two dozen people simultaneously started shouting and throwing flyers in the air. I couldn’t believe my eyes: was this what I thought it was?” — Reddit user tianamenthrowaway
“Everyone bolted. The previously packed square dispersed. It was just me, the protesters, and the military, police, and sanitation workers. (military = green uniforms, police = gray uniforms, sanitation workers = blue uniforms) There are soldiers stations on *every single* street corner in Beijing, and police are everywhere as well. But where did all the sanitation workers come from? Those bright-blue uniforms are hard to miss. What shocked me most was the number of plainclothes police. Among my thoughts of “oh fuck” was “wow… was half the crowd plainclothes police?” The reaction was incredibly swift– by the time I had taken these pictures, half of the flyers had already been removed.” — Reddit user tianamenthrowaway
“I didn’t grab a flyer, but they were half pages, double sided, with pictures of difference people’s faces, male and female, with text covering the remaining portions. I thought this may have been related with the current violence in Western Chinese, but the protesters were Han, not Uighers. Large demonstrations were happening concurrently in Hong Kong, also unsure if related. I don’t understand enough Chinese to understand what they were yelling.” — Reddit user tianamenthrowaway
“Despite rush hour traffic, two paddy wagons appeared. The protesters didn’t really put up any struggle, but were still shouting as they were pushed inside. Start to finish, it was all over in five minutes. Five minutes! Highly choreographed performance art isn’t executed as flawlessly. None of the law enforcement was shouting over walkie-talkies or otherwise… it was eerily silent except for the protesters.” –Reddit user tianamenthrowaway
“The cameras and microphones on the lamp posts in the square. Somewhere, two dozen people are locked away for forever. I have no idea how I have these pictures. As I was leaving, people with smartphones who had been recording at the periphery were starting to be confronted. I’ve never been more terrified in my entire life. I wonder how they co-ordinated? Two dozen people is relatively sizable.” — Reddit user tianamenthrowaway