On day before the 20th anniversary of the crackdown, Amnesty is gathering a group of survivors, and joining their calls for an independent inquiry into the events at Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Wu Yenhua: He was Assistant professor and Program Director at the Institute of Chinese Classics at the China university of Political Science and Law in 1989, and actively involved in the pro-democracy movement. He now lives in exile in the US.
Dr Wang Rongfen: She was a member of the Beijing Association of Academics and spent almost every night of the protests in Tiananmen Square. She had earlier been imprisoned for 13 years for writing to Mao Zedong, challenging his ‘Cultural Revolution’. She is now based in Germany.
Shao Jiang: He was an organiser of non-violent demos in Beijing in 1989, and was jailed for 18 months afterwards. He has lived in exile in the UK since 1997.
Xia Ze: She is the UK Director of Friends of the Tiananmen Mothers; her 19-year-old cousin was shot dead during the crackdown of 1989.
Kate Adie, who reported from the square for the BBC in 1989, will also be speaking.
Shao Jiang: There was a lot of human rights abuse and social disaster that arose from this regime [Chinese communist government]… Urge your government to monitor the Chinese regime, to press them into change.
Wu Yenha [translated]: In the year 1989, when [it] happened, I was at the place the whole night… 20 years have passed, and I cannot forget what happened, the killings… I have been trying to tell people the truth.
There were 14 [40?] military troops in Beijing at that time… there were also many other armies, there were about 200 000 in Beijing…
I would like to describe what I think was the most horrible thing about the event. About 6am on 4th June 1989, about 3000 students were chased by the army from Tiananmen Square, I was one of them that time… this was about 150m from the centre of Chinese government… The tanks threw tear gas at the students and 11 were killed, more were hurt. 5 bodies of the students were taken to the university where I taught at the time. It was the China University of Political Science and Law. It was unforgettable. So many dead bodies around there. That was the most bloody scene I saw at the time.
On 6th June, they didn’t care who you were, women or children, they just killed people… a 9-year-old boy was killed by the army. We don’t have much time now, but I can answer questions later.
Dr Wang Rongfen [translated]: I would like to tell you a story that happened 43 years ago, at the start of the Cultural Revolution. I made a mistake. I wrote a letter to Mao Zedong, that was altogether 3 and a half sentences. I said… what are you going to lead the Chinese into? I also wrote that the Cultural Revolution is not the people’s movement, it is one man with a gun. I said I would quit the party from now on, then my signature and my school. Then I was arrested. I was sentenced to indefinite imprisonment; I was in jail for 13 years.
In 1989, I was a professor. I was working with Max Lieber in Germany. We were going to hold a meeting in Beijing, but, because of the events of June 6th, we had to change it.
The Chinese never voted for this [communist government]. Why has the communist party continued in China for another 20 years? […] They have the army.
Since the Republic of China was founded, the leader of the communist party is also the leader of the Central Military Commission. Mao Zedong, who I wrote to, he was the leader of the party, and the leader of the Central Military Commission.
In 1989, the 200 000 troops in Beijing were sent by the Central Military Commission… I think the Chinese Army is the army of the communist party, they suppress the Chinese people. In the past 60 years, they have killed 70 million, and they are continuing to kill people. The Central Military Commission and Judiciary Commission in China is not for justice. The law is not for justice. The Secretary of the Judiciary System is also in charge of the police… the Judiciary System decides who is guilty and who is not guilty. If the judge makes a decision, he will lose his job and be put in jail… the communist party is in charge of the Chinese people’s lives, and they want to continue for ever, but the Chinese people will not agree, they are fighting for democracy and human rights.
If there is no help from international organisations like Amnesty International there is no hope for the Chinese people… I have a wish for the June 4th event: I hope Amnesty and other international organisations could investigate the truth of June 4th… I hope the murderer will be sent to court. We owe something to the people who died in this event.
Xia Ze: [passes on a message from her late cousin’s mother, her aunt] She would like to thank everyone outside China who has helped to reveal the truth of Tiananmen Square and gave moral and physical and financial support to the families. We have been trying to support the victims, the families of victims, and to reveal the truth.
My cousin was 19-years-old – he just stood in the street, holding a camera. He was doing nothing. He was shot dead because, on that day, no filming or photos were allowed. He was shot once through the head. Ambulances arrived twice and turned away. People were begging soldiers to help him, but they said that they would not save him, that they would shoot the others first.
Even more miserable for the family is that they are still suffering from persecution these 20 years. My auntie has been under house arrest, followed, had her movements restricted. They arrested her for receiving a parcel of T-shirts from Hong Kong, saying “Remember Tiananmen Square.” They said that these T-shirts harmed Chinese security. They also arrested 2 founders of Tiananamen Mothers, who had not receieved parcels… then false statements were released [in her aunt’s name]. Three generations of my family have been persecuted.
We must get the killers, the people who were ordering the killings, to justice. Still we want justice for the victims, for their families. I appeal to the media: please use your pens to help Chinese people to be free from the dictatorship, to be free to speak out, to have human rights… there are so many Chinese people thirsty for human rights. Please help.
Anu Kultalahti, Amnesty’s China expert: It is not an event of the past.
China has changed a lot over the past 20 years. China is keen to become a world leader.
This year, China introduced its first human rights plan, but of course, it depends on how it is implemented.
Last weekend, 18 human rights lawyers didn’t get their law licences renewed – they are subject to annual renewal. That’s the biggest number we’ve ever seen in a year. These lawyers have been taken up cases of those involved in Tibet in 2008, other human rights activists.
Lots of leading key activists in China are kept under house arrest, to keep them from talking to the media and from protesting in the streets. China has just blocked sites like Twitter and Flickr.
Kate Adie: Everyone wants to remember… what there isn’t, is any noise from Beijing. People we spoke to for the documentary a few weeks ago are now under house arrest or constant surveillance. It is standard practice.
I was late to the demonstrations… it happened over many weeks, and the other reporters had lost their steam, so I came in. I arrived a few days before the night the army shot its way in – it tried on 2 occasions… I was called about 10 minutes to midnight, and things seemed quiet.
We got a call that there was shooting going on, in Chang’an Avenue, which was miles from the square. It happened in all the streets around the square, not in the square itself. We saw burnt-out vehicles further out over the next few days. they were shooting from many other directions.
We were convinced that there had been a high death toll. I’d be guided by the Chinese Red Cross – they said at least 1000 a few days later – taken from the medics on the scene. Immediately after that announcement, that number disappeared. That figure has been erased, it can no longer be found in any official documents.
Trucks came in before tanks. The ordinary citizen, a man standing next to me, was no longer there. He had dropped to the ground – shot. It took me and the camerman that the trucks passing the street were full of soldiers firing down the side streets. Ordinary people coming out of their houses, wandering out in a daze, were shot. Some of the bullets went through the clay walls of the houses. I saw a woman dead in front of her TV. I think this was the main number of the casualties.
The children’s hospital was a scene of carnage… everyone had major exit bullet wounds. They were using high-powered rifles. If there is one particular reaction which I think is unique to China – disbelief. People did not run away – they stood in disbelief. They’ve had it rammed down their throats for decades, that the army loves the people… in Beijing they did not run for their lives and take cover. They were firing right down at the students from just a couple of hundred yards away.
The army opened fire in broad daylight. We saw people fall. There were thousands of them. There was no attempt at concealment. It was a straight attack, and it was unprovoked.
China has changed, but the determined vindictiveness of the regime has not. Anyone who tries to commemorate Tiananmen Square is persecuted. 19 years after it happened, a man who sent a one-line tribute into a newspaper has been placed under surveillance and is being bullied. They are criminalised within their own communities, they are made to lose friends by the Secret Police, who spread rumours about them.
They know what democracy and freedom of speech are. It’s not true to say that they don’t, as though the Chinese are a different kind of people. It is a small group who are prepared to speak out. The authorities are not moving towards to granting the people any freedom.
Here’s a little piece of hope, via The Guardian:
“To safeguard China Day” indeed (wordku.com).
The reasons are well-known outside of China, yes (bullog.org).
This is the cutest:
How cheeky (wuqing.org)!