Tiananmen Square Massacre’s 24th anniversary has been commemorated in a way never seen before – through memes. With China cracking the censor whip on nearly any and every reference to the historical massacre, dissidents found a way to sneak references to the event using memes.

Chinese authorities had enforced its traditional ban around references to the Tiananmen Square massacre on the social media. Words such as “remember”, “today”, “tonight”, “June 4” were all been banned from the widely-used Chinese social networking website Weibo.

Big Yellow Duck

Big Yellow Duck

Also banned was the term “Big Yellow Duck”. Why? Because the term is now being used to refer to a parody image of the iconic Tiananmen Square photo. The historic photo shows a rebel standing in front of tanks rolling into the square in Beijing and has been hailed as the picture of the massacre for years.

The viral image replaced the tanks with big yellow ducks, allegedly inspired by the yellow ducks installation found in Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour. The Photoshopped image turned up on the micro-blogging platform Weibo and has since been added to the ban list.

However, this wasn’t going to stop the rebels, was it? Chinese Netizens doctored more images of the massacre to “celebrate” the country’s Children’s Day on June 1. NetEase.com put up a nostalgic slide show of toys the readers would remember from their childhood. One image put up by the site included a recreation of “The Tank Man” scene with Lego.

Recreated with Lego

Recreated with Lego

It is commendable that Chinese Netizens are finding a way to circumvent the Great Firewall, especially on the massacre’s anniversary. Even as the authorities were suppressing images and terms, the country is managing to make references like 64 (June 4) trend on Weibo constantly. They even dubbed the day “National Amnesia Day”. Even as thousands gathered in Hong Kong and Macau to protest the event through candle-light vigils, people in Mainland China have had to use clandestine terms on the Internet as a mark of respect.

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