Dec. 23 (UPI) -- The death toll in the Chinese army crackdown on the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests was 10,000 people, according to newly-released documents.
China's government has said between 200 and 300 civilians died in the pro-democracy uprising on June 4, 1989. The political protests had lasted seven weeks until the army, which included 27 armored personnel carriers, was sent in.
But recently unsealed U.K. diplomatic cables sent at the time of the uprising now shed doubt on those estimations.
"Minimum estimate of civilian dead 10,000," reads the final sentence of a secret diplomatic cable: written on June 5 from Alan Donald, Britain's ambassador to China at the time. He said the figure was based on someone who "was passing on information given him by a close friend who is currently a member of the State Council."
The council is run by the premier.
The cables, held at the National Archives in London, were declassified in October, They were seen by the HK01 news site.
The document describes in detail the massacre. Wounded female students begging for their lives were allegedly were bayoneted, human remains were "hosed down the drains" and one mother was shot attempting to help her injured 3-year-old daughter.
"Students understood they were given one hour to leave square but after five minutes APCs attacked," he wrote. "Students linked arms but were mown down including soldiers. APCs then ran over bodies time and time again to make 'pie' and remains collected by bulldozer. Remains incinerated and then hosed down drains.
Activists in Hong Kong and Taiwan commemorate the anniversary date each year.
All activists' commemorations of the event are banned in mainland China. The government also regulates online discussion of the incident, including censoring criticism.
In November 2016, a peaceful pro-democracy march that drew thousands of people in Hong Kong turned violent. They had marched 2 1/2 miles across town to oppose Beijing's decision to determine the fate of two lawmakers who called for outright independence of Hong Kong from China.