Tucked away on the 10th floor of a Hong Kong commercial building sits the world's only museum commemorating the Tiananmen Square crackdown, the peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations shut down after Chinese soldiers opened fire on thousands.

The 100sq m room is a time capsule — a pair of glasses broken when its wearer was shot, a spray of bullets plucked from the dead.

A wall of historic photographs flanks the entrance; protest banners hang behind glass; two clocks silently count time elapsed since the massacre. Museum staffers mill around in black T-shirts: "The People Will Not Forget."

Even three decades later, the crackdown remains one of the most sensitive topics in China, and is still subject to government efforts to erase it from history. The ruling Communist Party continues to resist calls to acknowledge wrongdoing and the number of deaths.


About 100 visitors swing by daily to the museum in the former British colony, which enjoys rare civil freedoms. Jo Ng, 36, a history teacher, brought two dozen students for a lesson after they asked her: "The People's Liberation Army belongs to the people; why would they kill their own people?"

References to Tiananmen across the rest of China, however, are banned and routinely scrubbed off the internet.

Ahead of tomorrow's 30th anniversary, the Government launched "pre-emptive strikes" by detaining, interrogating, and placing under house arrest former protest leaders and their relatives, according to the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders, a coalition of human rights groups.

Last week, the Government forced Ding Zilin, 82, whose teenage son died in the protests, to leave Beijing.

Efforts to quash mentions began in 1989 with propaganda giving the government's version of events. An original propaganda pamphlet at the museum is titled, "Quelling Counter-Revolutionary Rebellion in Beijing." The caption next to a picture of soldiers in Tiananmen praises them for "thoroughly winning the triumph of safeguarding the capital".

Over the years, Chinese historians, writers, artists have tried to remember the many deaths the Communist Party would rather the world forget.

It's also getting passed on through parents like Dennis Cheung, 32, a NGO worker visiting the museum. "I was just 3 when this event occurred," he said. "I would like to learn more to educate my child."

For now, the June 4 Museum is allowed to stay open, though it's been an uphill battle thanks to years of lawsuits. Finding space was tough — some owners weren't keen to sell property for such a politically sensitive exhibit.


Shortly before opening last month, the place was vandalised, and occasional protesters still line the footpath outside. Whether or not the museum is allowed to stay open will "be a very important symbol" said Richard Tsoi, of the Hong Kong Alliance, the non-profit group behind the museum.