Notable Figures & Moments in AAPI History to Celebrate This Week, from Thai Boxer Khaosai Galaxy to Mountaineer Junko Tabei

All month long, we are honoring those who have impacted the world with their activism, inventions, achievements and more 

01 of 07

May 11, 868: The Earliest Surviving Book Is Produced in China

Diamond Sutra
Public Domain

The Diamond Sūtra was found in a holy site called the Mogao, or the "Caves of a Thousand Buddhas," and is one of the most influential Mahāyāna scriptures in East Asia, according to the British Library. Each section, which is intricately detailed, was printed using a single wood block, which shows that printing had already become an advanced technology by the 9th century in China.

02 of 07

May 12, 1998: Riots Ensue After 4 Students Are Killed in Jakarta, Indonesia

Trisakti University

Four Trisakti University students were shot dead as people rallied to protest for political and economic reform of the New Order regime in the late '90s. The deaths of Hafidhin Royan, Elang Mulya Lesmana, Hery Hartanto and Hendriawan Sie incited widespread rioting in Medan, Surakarta and Jakarta, which resulted in more than 1,000 deaths, according to the Jakarta Post.

Low ranking police were convicted in the shootings but no one has been brought to trial for the riots, arson, sexual assault, torture or mass rapes that were also committed during the turbulent time, the outlet added.

03 of 07

May 13, 1989: Thousands Begin Hunger Strike on Tiananmen Square

Tianamen Square

Following the death of popular reformist leader Hu Yaobang, hundreds of students marched to Tiananmen Square to honor his death and call for less corruption of the Chinese government and more freedom of speech. The students' demonstrations were shortly denounced in an editorial written by the Communist Party's People's Daily, which only brought on more protests.

On this day in history, hundreds of students began a hunger strike in Tiananmen Square, which went on for a week before martial law was declared in parts of Beijing, according to the Guardian. Then on June 4, Chinese troops launched an attack on their people.

The actual number of deaths remains unknown, according to the outlet, but it was said that the Chinese army killed at least 10,000 people who remained steadfast in their fight for democracy, free speech and free press in China.

04 of 07

May 14, 1923: Mrinal Sen Is Born

Mrinal Sen
Samir Jana/Hindusan Times via Getty

The renowned film director was born in Faridpur, now Bangladesh. Known for initiating the New Cinema movement in India, Sen grew to international fame following his landmark film, Bhuvan Shome (Mr. Shome).

In addition to receiving awards from almost all major film festivals, including Cannes, Berlin, Venice and Montreal, Sen was also awarded several personal prestigious awards, ranging from the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, the highest honor given to an Indian filmmaker by the government of India, to becoming an honorary member of the Indian Parliament from 1998 to 2003. He died in late 2018.

05 of 07

May 15, 1959: Thai Boxer Khaosai Galaxy Is Born

Khaosai Galaxy

The national hero, whose real name is Sura Saenkham, was nicknamed "The Thai Tyson" during his record-setting reign for 115-pound boxers in the late '80s. Largely ignored by the West, Galaxy was known to be one of the greatest fighters to ever live in Asia after retiring with a 49-1 record and getting inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1999.

06 of 07

May 16, 1975: Junko Tabei Becomes First Woman to Conquer Mt. Everest

Junko Tabei
John van Hasselt/Corbis via Getty

Tabei was the first woman to reach the top of the world's tallest peak. The mountaineer, who also founded Japan's first all-female climbing club, took on the epic challenge while her husband and then-3-year-old daughter stayed at home.

"Back in 1970s Japan, it was still widely considered that men were the ones to work outside and women would stay at home," Tabei told the Japan Times in 2012. "Even women who had jobs — they were asked just to serve tea. So it was unthinkable for them to be promoted in their workplaces."

In addition to Everest, Tabei became the first woman to scale the tallest mountains on each of the seven continents, including Mount Kilimanjaro and Denali, according to TIME, before she died of cancer in 2016.

07 of 07

May 17, 2007: First Trains Travel Between North & South Korea Since Korean War

Korea trains

Unification flags were waved as a North Korean train arrived in Goseong, located east of Seoul, South Korea, in 2007.

This historic moment marked the first time trains from both sides crossed the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), which divides North and South Korea, since the Korean War. This was a milestone marker for reconciliation at the time.

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