1901 – The Boxer Rebellion ends

THe Boxer Rebellion was a four year long uprising by native Chinese who fought against Japanese and European imperialism. The very name of the event is a textbook example of such imperialism: how dare the ungrateful peasantry of China reject the gifts of conquest, opium, economic disruption and famine that the Great Powers of the world had chosen to inflict upon them? An Eight Nation Alliance consisting of the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, Austria-Hungary, Russia, France, Germany and Italy set out to teach them the error of their ways.

Not that the Boxers were without their faults too – there were massacres of Christian missionaries and Chinese Christians, with an estimated 100,000 civilians killed by the rebels. (Another 5000 civilians were killed by the Alliance.) There is no record of how many Bozers were slain, but approximately 2000 Chinese soldiers and 1000 Alliance soldiers were killed in the fighting, before the Eight Nation Alliance forced China to sign a humiliating peace accord on September 7, 1901. The Boxer Protocol’s terms included the execution of government officials who had supported the Boxers, an indemnity payment so great that it exceeded China’s total annual tax income and the requirement for China to pay for the occupying garrisons of its conquerors.

Referenced in:

White’S Ferry — Clutch

1937 — The Rape of Nanking begins

In our world’s long and sorry history of warfare and strife, the Rape of Nanking, or Nanking Massacre, is one of the greatest atrocities to have ever been committed – and the continued denial by serial Japanese governments that the Rape even occurred one of the greatest hypocrisies.

The city of Nanking, which had been left very lightly defended by Chiang Kai-shek after the fall of Shanghai, fell to the Japanese advance on December 13, and almost at once, a military advance transformed into looting and arson, and shortly thereafter, into killing and raping, at first incidental, but increasingly systematised over the six weeks following the 13th.

No accurate tally of victims has ever been made, but estimates place the number of rapes between 20,000 and 80,000, many of them old women and children, and the number of murders anywhere from 100,000 to 500,000, the majority of them civilians or prisoners of war. Bodies were burned and buried in mass graves to help prevent identification, and it is believed that documents pertaining to the massacre were among those destroyed by the Japanese High Command immediately before and after their surrender in 1945.

Referenced in:
Nanking — Exodus

My WikiLeaks Wish List

Daniel Ellsberg was a military analyst employed by the RAND Corporation, when he leaked the doccuments that became known as The Pentagon Papers. They were published by the New York Times on June 13, 1971 – at the height of the Vietnam War. It was a scandal in its day, and the 7000 pages worth of documents leaked by Ellsberg represent the largest such leak in history.

Until recently, that is. No doubt you’re aware of the recent disclosure of 9000 pages of similar materials – more Pentagon documents, this time relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan rather than Vietnam – by WikiLeaks.

Naturally, this led to comparisoms of Daniel Ellsberg and Julian Assange. And The Washington Post took the step of asking Ellsberg about it, and he contributed a wishlist of four leaks he’d like to see on WikiLeaks.
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1989 – China declares martial law in response to the Tiananmen Square protests

Inspired by, among other things, the fall of Communist regimes in Eastern Europe, approximately 100,000 Chinese protestors, many of them students, occupied Tiananmen Square in Beijing for several weeks beginning on April 14, 1989.

In what can only be described as a massive over-reaction, the government of the People’s Republic of China declared martial law and sent in tanks and infantry to disperse the protestors. The army was delayed by other protestors, but on June 3, they reached the Square.

What followed has often, and not inaccurately, been labelled a massacre. Due to the government’s highly efficient censorship, an accurate death toll has never been released, and even today the incident officially did not occur. Unofficially, a number that has been variously estimated as between 140 and 7000 people died in the protests, and hundreds more were injured, all in an attempt to win rights that the majority of people reading this blog take for granted.

Referenced in:

China – Joan Baez
Blood Red – Slayer
Tin Omen – Skinny Puppy
Watching TV – Roger Waters
Hypnotize – System of a Down
Seven Days in May – Testament
The Tiananmen Man – Nevermore
We Didn’t Start the Fire – Billy Joel
The King of Sunset Town – Marillion
Tiananmen Square – Chumbawumba
Black Boys on Mopeds – Sinéad O’Connor
The Ghost in You – Siouxsie and the Banshees