Today in History: Hunger Strike4

At 2:00 am, General Secretary Zhao Ziyang wrote a letter to thestudents on behalf of the Standing Committee of the CPC Politburo. Zhaodetermined the movement to be patriotic. But he also urged the studentsto remain calm, rational and orderly and to have concern for the biggerpicture. Zhao also promised that the government would not retaliateagainst the students.At the Square, more than one million people – workers, students, andlocal residents – supported the hunger strikers, who had begun theirfifth day of fasting. Ambulances were seen coming in and out of theSquare, carrying to the nearby hospitals dozens of hunger strikers whohad lost consciousness after days of fasting. Banners withanti-bureaucracy, anti-corruption, and democratic slogans were seeneverywhere in the Square. There were also slogans demanding that DengXiaoping and Li Peng to either retire or resign. Students and workersfrom other provinces had joined the rally at the Square. Three prominent intellectuals, Yan Jiaqi, Bao Zunxin and Li Nanyou,produced a "May 17 Declaration" denouncing the government'sunwillingness to talk to the students in order to seek a peacefulresolution. In the declaration, the three intellectuals stated that"although the Qing dynasty has been dead for seventy years, there is anemperor without an official title, and old and fatuous dictator." Theyare referring, of course, to Deng Xiaoping.

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