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On April 15 of 1989, Hu Yaobang, former Communist party chief and a leading reformist, died of a heart attack. He was a popular figure among anti-communist citizens and his death was a catalyst for the protests leading up to and culminating in the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Mourners begin to gather in Tiananmen Square to express their sadness and protest the slow pace of reform in China. (History.com, 2009)
In the following days, numbers of protester in Beijing grow into thousands, and demonstrations begin appearing in cities and universities nationwide. Students and workers protest for greater freedom and democracy and an end to what they called dictatorship. Protesters complain about inflation, salaries, and housing issues. Tens of thousands of students gather outside the Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square on April 22nd as Hu Yaobang’s memorial service is held in spite of the city government's previous warning that they would risk severe punishment.
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