You may be familiar with a piece of footage from the Tiananmen Square events on June 4, 1989. In it, a young man carries plastic shopping bags and runs directly into the pathway of oncoming armored tanks on their way to break up protests in the square.

Funny how that famous footage is now being censored by China’s recent Tiananmen Square anniversary blackout as seen on our roundup of coverage. If you’d like to see the original footage, we list it as one of the “20 Important Moments in Human Rights Video“.

In protest of China’s censorship, this week’s playlist salutes the activists inside China who continue the fight for human rights and undoubtedly were influenced by the events of Tiananmen Square 25 years ago.

Nothing To My Name by Cui Jian – during the students hunger strike on the square they adopted Cui’s hit “Yiwu Suoyou” (Nothing to my Name) as their anthem. ~ CNN article

4 June 1989 by Mary Chapin Carpenter – is titled after the date of the Chinese Tiananmen Square massacre, in which more than 1,000 unarmed protesters were killed by government troops in a slaughter that crushed China’s emerging pro-democracy movement.

Beethoven 9th Symphony 4th movement ‘Ode to Joy‘ – “At Tiananmen Square in 1989, students played the Ninth Symphony over makeshift loudspeakers… Feng Congde, one of the leaders, told me how he and his fellow protesters wanted the world to hear their message of hope for China and how the Ninth summed up that hope.” ~ Greg Mitchell

Tiananmen Square by Chumbawamba – lyrics are commentary about the government’s actions: Heads bowed, eyes down, here comes the enemy / To hail the people’s victory! Which people? What victory? / It’s the People’s Army that murdered the people / They’ve come to glue the shattered, battered statues in the square

A Piece of Red Cloth by Cui Jian – this song was part of Cui’s impromptu performance in the square before Deng Xiaoping sent in the tanks. When he performs the song he wears a red bandanna over his eyes

China by Joan Baez – is a political song about Tiananmen Square and is written more as a lament than a protest song.

Chinese poster of cheerful crowds of people holding Mao's Red Book in Tiananmen square
Propaganda poster of cheerful crowds of people holding Mao’s Red Book in Tiananmen square via Google image search

Shiny Happy People by R.E.M. – It’s been rumored that Stipe adapted the phrase “Shiny Happy People Holding Hands” from a Chinese propaganda poster issued around the time of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Hypnotize by System of a Down – The lyrics, “Why don’t you ask the kids in Tiananmen Square, was fashion the reason why they were there?” comment on the massacre where the Chinese government sent in the army to deal with protesting university students.

Goddess of Democracy was written by Dennis Scialli in 1989 – was released on June 4, 2012, to commemorate the 23rd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Watching TV by Roger Waters – is a song about a fictional woman killed at Tiananmen Square in 1989 to show how much of an effect someone’s death can have on the world if it happens live on TV.

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