Six days after the event now known as the Tiananmen Square massacre of June 4, 1989, Bob Hawke, the then-prime minister of Australia, addressed a memorial service at the national parliament in Canberra.
With some 500 Chinese students present, a teary Hawke told the crowd that “thousands have been killed, victims of a leadership that seems determined to hang on to the reins of power at any cost. An awful human cost.
“[Chinese troops] had orders that nobody in the square be spared, and children … young girls were slaughtered as mercilessly as the many wounded soldiers from other units there,” he said in a speech now immortalised in Australia’s political history.
“Tanks then ran backwards and forwards over the bodies of the slain, until they were reduced to pulp, after which bulldozers moved in to push the remains into piles, which were then incinerated by troops with flame throwers.”