Written by Diane Gatterdam
Twenty-three years ago on this day Monday June 5th 1989, as a column of tanks rumbled eastward down Chan’an Avenue, several Western Cameramen in the Beijing Hotel captured what was to be the most enduring image of the whole seven weeks. A young man holding nothing more than a jacket in one hand and shopping bag in the other stepped out in front of the oncoming tanks.
New photo of Tank Man just found
For one quintessential moment, the entire armored column came to a grinding halt. When the lead tank jerked to the right to circumvent this unexpected obstruction, the young man stepped into its path and stretched out him arms, as if he were trying to corral a stubborn animal.
Then he climbed atop the halted tank and began to bang on the turret. Then the head of a surprised crew member peeked out the hatch, this brave man was reported to have shouted, “Turn around! Stop killing my people!” When he finally jumped down onto the pavement again, several agitated friends ran out and dragged him to safety…
Or did they? To this day, no one knows what happened to this brave man now simply called “The Tank Man”
All day long the people of Beijing challenged the tanks in their streets, running at them and them running from them trying to avoid the soldiers shooting back at these unarmed civilians.
Other young people engaged in different kinds of hit-and-run protests. They burned stray military vehicles and attacked any “Green Devils” as soldiers came to be know, whose misfortune it was to become separated from their units.
According to the governments own statistics, during the three months immediately following the massacre, 170 assaults against martial–law troops led to 21 deaths.
People displaying bullets found in their homes.
Beijing resident living on the west side of Tiananmen Square shows off a slug that came through into his window.
Many people young and old where killed sitting in their own homes as guns sprayed bullets randomly into their apartments, killing as many people as they could.
The day before on June 4th, Fang Zheng and other classmates were evacuating from Tiananmen Square. As he turned back to save a female student, he was run over by a tank and ended up with both of his legs crushed by that tank.
After June 4th he recovered and won two gold medals in a national disabled persons athletic competition, but his credentials to compete in international events were taken away from him due to his involvement in the June 4th protests. He has been fighting for the rights of the Chinese people since this tragic action by this cruel government.
As soon as Shen Tong walked into his parents’ house a few blocks from the Square his mother said to his uncle, ”You can’t wait any longer, take Yuan Yuan away quickly!” Shen was in a trance. “I am putting my son’s life in your hands” his mother said, and with that he was put on the back of his uncles bike.
As they rode through the streets of Beijing they saw soldiers in personnel carriers firing at the feet of a row of people on the street, hitting their legs and feet. Those in the front knelt down in pain, but the people kept coming.
A group of people had cornered a man in an official looking uniform down one of the alleys hitting him with bricks. Shen Tong jumped off the back of the bike, trying to stop them. “Please stop it,” he begged. His uncle pulled him away saying: “Its no use he is almost dead” and put him back on the bike and rode off quickly.
“The soldiers are killing the people and the people are killing the soldiers” Shen said.
They eventually arrived at an empty apartment building that had been recently constructed.
This was to be his hiding place.
After the students who left the Square got back to Beida, they decided that the only way for them was to go underground individually and work alone. They exchanged addresses of likely hiding places, and arranged passwords, liaisons and regular times and methods for contacting each other.
Feng Congde took out the few thousand yuan left from the headquarters treasury and divided it among the 7 or 8 student leader left there.
Now they had to part.
“We had known each other for only a few weeks, but we now shared everything together, and had wandered back and forth between life and death several times.”
Beijing had come to a halt. Stores had closed, postal service and sanitation services had ceased, and most people stayed home from work.
Nobody knew what to believe amid all the rumors about imminent civil war, the assassination of leaders, and workers’ strikes.
On Television soldiers were shown sweeping up debris in the streets and the Central Committee and the State Council issued a proclamation declaring:
“Quelling of this horrifying counterrevolutionary rebellion is a totally righteous action that is in keeping with the desire and basic interest of the people in Beijing and all over the country.”
It extravagantly claimed that the real aim of the protesters was to take up arms in order to overthrow the government and ultimately kill the party’s 47 million members.
The plotters and organizers of the counterrevolutionary rebellion are mainly a handful of people who have for a long time obstinately persisted in bourgeois liberalization, engaged in political scheming, collaborated with hostile forces overseas, and provided illegal organizations with top secrets of the party and state,” the proclamation charged.
“Those who committed the atrocities of beating, smashing, looting, and burning are mainly unreformed elements released after serving prison sentences, hordes of political hooligans, remnants of the Gang of Four, and other dregs of society.
In brief, they are reactionary elements who harbor a deep hatred for the Communist Party and the socialist system.”
The Chinese Communist Party were liars then in 1989, and are liars still to this day 23 years later in 2013. They have never admitted to this huge atrocity against their own people, but the Chinese People will never forget…
*(Tomorrow June 6th, will be the last post. It will have plenty of new information and updates.)