Seekins distorts the contents of my July 21 article (“Birth of a massacre myth“) in his July 24 letter, “Critical spirit at the Olympics.” I stated specifically that hundreds, possibly thousands, of civilians and students were killed in the streets of Beijing on the night of June 3-4, 1989, as crowds attacked and killed troops seeking to reach Tiananmen Square and remove the prodemocracy student demonstrators camped there.

But that is very different from the usual claims of troops storming into the square and killing hundreds, even thousands, of students there without provocation — the so-called Tiananmen Square Massacre. I listed three independent, unbiased sources who were in the square throughout the night and who insist there was no such killing of students in the square.

U.S. Embassy reports formerly available on the Internet confirmed this, though they did mention some fighting around the entrance to the square. I also referred to a detailed study by the Washington Post bureau chief in Beijing at the time explaining how the myth of a massacre in the square got into circulation.

As for reports of anti-regime civilian and student crowds attacking and killing soldiers, there is no shortage of information, and photos, proving that, just as there is no shortage of material proving that soldiers killed civilians and students. In other words there was a riot, not a massacre. And it did not happen in Tiananmen Square.

If Seekins has some doubts about this material proving there was no massacre in Tiananmen Square, he should say so rather than claim that I was mistakenly denying there was any bloodshed whatsoever in Beijing that night.

gregory clark