EXCLUSIVE: As civic unrest continues, there is clearly a shift in culture. Protests are part of progress and give a voice to a voiceless and there is a rich history from all around the world when it comes to change. The forthcoming graphic novel Tiananmen 1989: Our Shattered Hopes gives audiences insight into one of the often-censored protests in history that turned into a tragedy. The graphic novel is set to be released on June 16, a week after the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre.
Told via a first-hand account of Lun Zhang, French journalist and Asia specialist Adrien Gombeaud, and artist Ameziane, Tiananmen 1989 sheds light on the massacre where more than one million students stood at Tiananmen Square in the center of Beijing, China, calling for democracy. It became wildly known as China’s infamous June Fourth Incident.
The story is told through the eyes of Zhang, a young sociology teacher, who joined concerned Chinese citizens as they took to the streets demanding political reforms. The novel features many voices and viewpoints, describing how the hope of a generation was shattered when authorities opened fire.
With the current landscape and the protests all around the world stemming from the death of George Floyd and the fight against racial injustice, Tiananmen 1989 is as relevant as ever.
“While the fight for human dignity, and human rights, is present in the United States today as it was in China in 1989, there is a crucial difference, in that we were fighting to attain freedoms that are still absent in China even today — freedom of expression, freedom to demonstrate, and more,” Zhang told Deadline. “Thankfully, with the current protests in the United States, the people can use their right to free speech to improve the situation. For this reason, while there may be no perfect or ideal system in the world, democracy is a better system than others.”
He continues, “Tragedies like the death of George Floyd occur in China nearly every day, but it’s not in the news, because the Chinese do not have the right to demonstrate. In 1989, it may have been a special circumstance that allowed for the student protests, but today, it is more difficult to demonstrate in the street in China. I still have hope, with the demonstrations in America following the death of George Floyd, that democracy will lead to a huge step forward for human dignity, as we have seen in the past in America. I hope that one day the Chinese can walk on the street to commemorate the dead of Tiananmen.”
The graphic novel comes from IDW Publishing which also published graphic novels cut from the same cloth including Springtime in Chernobyl, Burmese Moons and After the Spring.
Check out the sneak peek of the graphic novel below.