Written by Diane Gatterdam
The Students of Tiananmen Square 1989 who stood in the face of death for the Human Rights of all Chinese people will always soar high. Their mission lives on until China is free…
Two days after the Tiananmen Massacre, or what the Party leaders called “Putting Down the Counterrevolutionary Riots” Party Leaders held a meeting.
The agenda included restoring order in Beijing and across the country and arranging for the central committee’s next meeting, the Fourth Plenum of the Thirteenth Central Committee.
“If we hadn’t been firm with these counterrevolutionary riots, if we hadn’t come down hard, who knows what might have happened?
The PLA has suffered a great deal we owe them a lot, we really do. If the plots of the people who were pushing the riots had gotten anywhere; we’d have had civil war. And if there been civil war of course our side would have won, but just think of all the deaths!
We had no choice but to come down hard. “
Li Peng, who is known as the “Butcher of Tiananmen”, said:
“All the Western countries, with the United States in the lead, are issuing one or another kind if proclamation about applying sanctions against China and cutting China off from the world.”
“Those countries like to come up with resolutions after resolution about how to interfere in our internal affairs. But the interference is no big deal for us, we can ignore it if we like, or we can fight back. Those countries want to apply sanctions against us? All right, but first, lets ask them why this is any of their business. And second, if it is then we can fight with sanctions too. Our economic growth might suffer, but not all that much. We have done all right under international sanctions for most of the 40 years of the Peoples Republic. So we don’t have to worry too much; we can take it calmly. This little tempest is not going to blow us over. We’re not trying to offend anybody; were just plugging away at our work. Anybody who tries to interfere in our affairs or threaten us is going to come up empty.”
“We should mete out the necessary punishments, in varying degrees, to the ambitious handful who were trying to subvert the Peoples Republic like Fang Lizhi.
But we should be forgiving toward the student demonstrators and petition signers whether from Beijing, from elsewhere in China, or from overseas, and we shouldn’t try to track down individual responsibility among them….
We also need to watch our methods as we take control of the situation. We should be extra careful about laws, especially the laws and regulations on assembly, association, marches, demonstrations, journalism, and publishing. Activities that break the law must be suppresses.
This man was beaten and killed in broad day light.
We can’t just allow people to demonstrate whenever they want to. If People demonstrate 365 days a year and don’t want to do anything else, reform and opening will get nowhere. We’ve got to make it understood both inside and outside China that we’re tightening control for the sake of stability, which means for the sake of reform and opening and modern construction.”
On June 8th the Municipal Government and Martial Law Headquarters declared the nationwide Federation of Autonomous Student Unions and Federation of Autonomous Labor Unions illegal and warned union members that they should turn themselves in to the police or risk being arrested and punished severely.
The headquarters also called on Chinese citizens to strike back by exposing and denouncing the criminal activities of the counterrevolutionaries. To facilitate what it hoped to be an outpouring of denunciations from informants, 17 special telephone hot lines were set up to receive tips. Contrary to the Party’s hopes, however, irate citizens began telephoning the hot lines with bogus information, so that they quickly became jammed up and virtually useless.
Propaganda posters started to appear everywhere and a coffee table type book called ”Truth about the Beijing Turmoil” was published portraying the Government as the conquering hero’s, loved by the people.
On June 9th Deng Xiaoping reemerged from seclusion in a coming out ceremony held inside Zhongnanhai in Huairen Hall (Cherishing Humanity Hall).
He entered the room dressed in an ordinary gray/blue Mao suit, flanked by President Yang Shangkun and Vice President Wang Zhen.
Deng greeted members of the Standing Committee and military commanders who had “Quelled the turmoil”. They smiled, clapped spiritedly and reached out enthusiastically to shake his hand as if he were a politician on the campaign trail.
After a moment of silence for the “Military Martyrs” who lost their lives on the streets, Deng launched into an extemporaneous talk that hailed the PLA as:
“Truly a Great Wall of iron and steel around the Party an Country.”
Each soldier was given a watch to commemorate their so called “Brave Actions”.
This charade was telecast as eager citizens sat spellbound in front of their TV’s to hear how the paramount leader would assess what has just happened.
Almost immediately, Beijing Television news began to show film clips of frightened and often badly beaten detainees being taken into custody. Some had broken ribs, and they were so badly beaten to such a horrifying state that when they were turned over to the PSB, they took pictures of them so as not to be blamed, and to have proof that these people arrived in their hands in this state.
Viewer’s understood the intended message of the video images all too well: Those perceived to have been among the “very small handful of troublemakers” would now pay dearly for the trouble they caused, especially young workers, who had none of the protective status of elite students.
By June 11 municipal authorities had already detained some 400 looters, vagrants rumormongers, individual entrepreneurs, and recidivist criminals.
Pictures also started to surface of the dead.
On June 13th fear levels among protesters hiding rose precipitously when the government issued it’s “21 Most Wanted List” of student activists.
At the top of the list was Wang Dan, who only days earlier told a reporter from the New York Times, “I have nothing to be afraid of, I don’t think they will be able to imprison me as long as Wei Jingsheng.”
This is the list of the 21 most wanted:
Wang Dan [3769 0030], male, 24 A native of Jilin. Student in the Department of History, Peking University. Approximately 1.73 metres tall. Has a pointed lower jaw, relatively thin hair, cavities on his front teeth, and relatively thin physical features. Wears glasses for myopia. Speaks with husky Peking accent.
Wuer Kaixi [0702 1422 7030 1585], formerly known as Wuer Kaixi [0702 1422 0418 6007]. Male, born on 17th February 1968. Uygur nationality. A native of Yining County, Xinjiang Autonomous Region. Student of the 1988 class of the Education Department, Peking Normal University. Is 1.74 metres tall. Hair parted in the middle. Hair colour is yellowish. Has long face, big eyes, thick lips, thick lips, relatively white skin, relatively rough voice. Speaks Putonghua. Regularly wears green military trousers.
Liu Gang [0941 0474], male. A native of Liaoyuan city, Jilin. Former graduate student of the Department of Physics, Peking University, now unemployed. Approximately 1.65 meter’s tall. Has a square face, full beard, relatively long sideburns. Speaks with a north-eastern accent.
Chai Ling [2693 3781], female. Born on 15th April 1966. Han nationality. A native of Rizhao city, Shandong. Graduate student of the 1986 class of the Department of Psychology, Peking Normal University. Is 1.56 meters tall. Has a round face, single-fold eyelids, high cheekbones, short hair and relatively white skin.
Zhou Fengsuo [0719 6912 6956], male. Born on 15th October 1967. Han nationality. A native of Changan county, Shaanxi Province. A student of the 1985 class of the Department of Physics, Qinghua University. Is 1.76 meters tall. Has a square face, pointed chin and quite heavy eyebrows.
Zhai Weimin [5049 0251 3046], originally called Zhai Weimin [5049 3634 3046]. Male, 21. A native of Xinan county, Henan Province. Student of Peking Economics College. Is 1.68 metres tall. Thin, has a long, oval face, crew cut, single-fold eyelids, relatively dark facial complexion. Speaks with quite a heavy Henan accent.
Liang Qingtun [2733 2348 2557], alias Liang Zhaoren [2733 0340 0088], Male. Born on 11th May 1969. A native of Pengxi county, Sichuan Province. Student of the 1987 class of the Department of Psychology, Peking University. Is 1.71 metres tall. Has quite a thin physique and quite dark skin, a long squarish face, small eyes, high nose, quite thick lips. Can speak Putonghua.
Wang Zhengyun [3769 2973 0061], male, 21, of Kucong nationality. Address Lianfang village, Nanke town, Mengla district, Jinping county, Honghe prefecture, Yunnan Province. Student of the Central Institute for Nationalities. Height about 1.67 meters. Long, thin face, hair parted in the middle, dark brown complexion with freckles.
Zheng Xuguang [6774 2485 0342], male, 20. Native of Mixian county, Henan. Address 56 North Lane, Huancheng West Road, Xian city. Student of Peking Aeronautic and Astronautic University. Height 1.81 meters, weight 63 kg. Long, oval face, single-fold eyelids, a pointed chin, big ears.
Ma Shaofang [7456 1421 2455], male, born in November, 1964. Native of Jiangdu city, Jiangsu Province. Student of the evening writing classes of Peking Film Academy. Height about 1.67 meters. On the thin side, long face, pointed chin, dark-skinned, wears glasses for myopia.
Yang Tao [2799 3447], male, 19. Native of Fuzhou city, Fujian. History student of Peking University. Height about 1.70metres. On the thin side, high cheekbones, double-fold eyelids, wears glasses, speaks Putonghua.
Wang Zhixin [3769 3112 2450], male. Born in November 1967. Student of China University of Political Science and Law. Address Textile Industry School, Yuci City, Shanxi. Height 1.69 meters. Long hair, wears glasses.
Feng Congde [1409 1783 1795], male, 22. Native of Sichuan Province. Candidate of the Institute of Remote Sensing of Peking University. Height about 1.70 meters. On the thin side, dark-skinned.
Wang Chaohua [3769 6389 5478], female, 37. Graduate student of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Height about 1.63 meters. Rather thin, long face, dark brown complexion, triangular eyes, short hair.
Wang Youcai [3769 2589 2088, male. Born in June 1966. Native of Zhejiang Province. Graduate student of the Law Department of Peking University.
Zhang Zhiqing [1728 1807 3237], male. Born in June 1964. Native of Taiyuan city, Shangxi. Student of China Political Science and Law University.
Zhang Boli [1728 0130 4567], male, 26. Native of Wangkui county, Heilongjiang Province. Student of the writing class of Peking University. Height about 1.75 meters. A little overweight, round face, double-fold eyelid, upturned nose, thick lips. Speaks with a north-eastern accent.
Li Lu [2621 6922], male, about 20. Student of Nanjing University. Height about 1.74 meters. Middle type of figure, square chin, protruding lower teeth.
Zhang Ming [1728 6900], male. Born in April 1965. Native of Jilin city, Jilin Province. Student of the Automotive Engineering Department of Qinghua University.
Xiong Wei [3574 3555], male. Born in July 1966. Native of Yingcheng county, Hubei Province. Student of the 1985 class of the Radio Engineering Department of Qinghua University. Address No 502, Unit 47, No 1 Mashengmiao, Haidian, Peking.
Xiong Yan [3574 8746], male. Born in September 1964. Native of Shuangfeng county, Hunan Province. Graduate student of the Law Department of Peking University. Address Xingziceshui Hospital, Shuangfeng county, Hunan Province.
Photos of each were now broadcast repeatedly on nationwide television along with their “criminal activities” and appeals for information on their whereabouts. The PSB began a massive search of homes, spied on suspects at work, and pressured people to inform on friends.
Surveillance was stepped up at train stations, airports and docks to prevent those who were wanted from escaping.
The Beijing Airport was jammed with people trying to leave.
Where are they now?
Below is a list of some of the key people who where involved in this most profound and epic event in China’s History, one that reverberated thoughout the world.
Liu Xiaobo in 1989 and Liu’s picture today on a poster asking for his freedom as he sits in prison 21 years later, 21 years fighting for human rights and justice in China
One June 6th Liu Xiaobo was picked up by police while bicycling in the street, pushed into a van and packed off to Qinchheng Prison. He was accused by the government as being one of the “Black Hands” behind the turmoil. Today, 21 years later Liu sits in a Chinese prison for co-writing Charter 08, he is still fighting for the Human Rights of the Chinese people.
On June 9th BSP arrested and raided the apartment of Ren Wanding a 41-year-old Human Rights Activist.
On June 12th Li Jinjin, the legal scholar who advised Han Dongfang was arrested at gunpoint in his home.
On June 19th Han Dongfang arrived back in front of the PSB compound where ironically he had first seen student demonstrators beaten in 1986. Han walked into the police office and said, “I am Han Dongfang, the Security Bureau is after me, and I would like to turn myself in.” Han spent 2 years in prison with out a trial were he almost died. After his release for medical reasons, he was expelled to Hong Kong and in 1994 founded the China Labor Bulletin to defend and promote workers rights in China. Han has worked tirelessly everyday since 89 in their defense.
On July 2nd, the Chinese Government caught the number 1 on their list.
Wang Dan was picked up while meeting with a Taiwanese journalist who was helping him flee.
Like Wu’er Kaixi and many others, Wang had fled to the south in hopes of escaping to Hong Kong. But after failing to connect with anyone in the underground, Wang was forced to return to Beijing. After 18 months he was sentenced to 4 years in prison. In 1993 was released early and continued publicly promoting political reform in China. He was rearrested in 1996 and sentenced to another 11 years in jail for “Conspiring to subvert the Chinese Government.” He was finally released on medical parole in 1998 and expelled to the US. He has worked for democracy and Human Rights in China ever since. He is a true inspiration to all.
2nd on the most wanted list Wu’er Kaixi fled China in the weeks after the crackdown arriving in Paris and then the US. He lived in California for a number of years and then in the late 1990’s moved to Taiwan. He runs his own business and still fights for Human Rights in China and also for the Ughar People. In 2009 he tried to go back to China through Macau to see his parents whom he has not seen since 89, and was arrested and expelled. This year 2010 he tried again in Japan to get into the Chinese Embassy and again was arrested. He is another man who inspires me and many around the world.
Chai Ling and Feng Congde spent 10 months on the run before finally reaching Hong Kong. They fled first to France where they were divorced. Feng stayed there, while Chai Ling moved to the US. Chai’s forceful stance during the 89 standoff made her a very controversial figure especially after a 1995 documentary called “Gates of Heavenly Peace” where she appeared and said, “I think only when blood flows like rivers on the square will the Chinese people be able to really open their eyes.” Chai Ling runs a business in the US and last year became a Born Again Christian. Feng now lives in California.
On June 10th after hiding in Beijing in a vacant apartment, Shen Tong with the help others boarded a Northwest Airlines plane to Tokyo bound for the US. He was said to have gotten the last Visa issued in Beijing to the US. Shen Tong started the “Democracy for China Fund” and wrote the book- “Almost a Revolution” He now lives in New York City with his family. His story was truly inspiring.
Li Lu escaped China and landed in the US. He wrote the book “ Moving the Mountain” that was also made into a movie . He works and lives in New York City.
Wang Chaohua went into hiding before escaping to US. She had to leave her small son behind in China and didn’t see him again for 15 years. She moved to Los Angeles, and now lives in London.
Zhang Boli spend over 2 years hiding in China, traveling and living in small provinces in fear everyday of being caught. He finally escaped and wrote the book ”Escape from China” which tells his tale of escape and the agony he went through. He now lives in Washington DC where he is the pastor of a church.
The three men that defaced the portrait of Mao, Yu Dongyue, Lu Decheng and Yu Zhijian spent 20 years in prison and were just released on 2009.
Fang Lizhi and his wife Li Shuxian spent almost 2 years hiding in the Unites States Embassy in Beijing before escaping to the US. He continues to work for the cause of democracy and human rights in China every day.
Wang Juntao was arrested and has sentenced in 1989 and again in 1991 was sentenced to 13 years in prison. He was expelled to the US in 1994. He continues to work for the cause of democracy and human rights in China everyday.
Liu on closed-circuit television in the prison
when several American reporters visited
during a government-approved trip.
Liu Gang, one of the leaders served a six-year prison sentence in northeast China. When he was released, he fled to the United States because constant police harassment in China. They would not let him find work, or a place to live. He still works for Human Rights in China.
Premier Zhao Ziyang spent next 16 years of his life under house arrest until his death in 2005. During that time he secretly recorded his memoirs which were published on the eve of the Tiananmen crackdowns 20th anniversary, the book “Prisoner of the State.” A true Chinese hero.
*How did some escape?
(See notes at the very end of this post)
A group of parents who’s children where killed on the streets of Beijing during those horrific days, have come to be known as “The Tiananmen Mothers.” They have fought all these years for answers and have held the Chinese Communist Government totally responsible. They became Chinese democracy activists promoting a change in the government’s position over the suppression of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. This group is led by Nobel Peace Prize nominee Ding Zilin, a retired university professor whose teenage son was shot and killed by government troops during the protests.
To this day the Government has not acknowledged their requests for:
The right to mourn peacefully in public;
The right to accept humanitarian aid from organizations and individuals inside and outside China;
No more persecution of victims, including those injured in the shootings and the families of the dead;
The release of all people still in prison for their role in the 1989 protests; and
A full, public investigation into the crackdown.
They also want the Chinese government to name the dead, compensate families and punish those responsible. The government made a payout of 70,000 yuan for the first time in 2006 to one of the victims families.
The Tiananmen Mothers
These elderly parents are admired around the world as extraordinary champions of Human Rights.
I pour my heart out to the white cloud,
I, the homesick wanderer.
Oh please, float back to my native land,
And drop the tears I shed for my mother.
-Poem witten by Wu’er Kaixi
“Oh my brothers and sisters, when iron wheels rolled and fire bullets flew, your voice they muffled and the your sky overcast, but your thoughts they never could kill … and the battle still rages. May the Gate of Heavenly Peace sees the light of freedom soon!”
– Bhuchung D. Sonam Tibetan Poet, Freedom Fighter
*I want to thank Catherine A Yeung who’s amazing blog “Under the Jacaranda Tree” has been posting this remembrance for 50 days and who has been able to reach thousands of Chinese People inside China who may have never seen some of these photos or read the whole truth.
It is my heartfelt hope that this story inspire a new generation of Chinese People to pick up the touch of freedom from these Hero’s of 1989 and continue the fight for the rights that belong to them.
*I am thankful to my friend Khang Hei one of the amazing photographer’s, who’s work I have used throughout this post. He was studying in Beijing during 1989. His brilliant work captured the story of this revolution and illustrated the passion of the students, the heart of the people and the in-humanity of the government. Through his work the world was able to see the truth no matter how the Communist Party tried to hide it.
He continues to tell amazing stories through his photography around the world, in Tibet, Burma, The Ho Chi Minh Trail, Cambodia’s Killing Fields, Angkor Wat and many more. His work can be seen in galleries from New York to Asia.
*On a personal Note – I devote this 50 day remembrance to my beloved mom, Doris Gatterdam who after she died leads me to China and still leads on this unknown path.
There are so many names that were not mentioned in this remembrance and so much information that was not included because this was always meant to be a day by day overview. I have included a list of books and films that are a great reference.
Books to read:
– Tiananmen Papers- Andrew Nathan and Perry Link
– Mandate of Heaven- Orville Schell
– Almost a Revolution- Shen Tong
– Disco’s and Democracy- Orville Schell
– Moving the Mountain- Li Lu
– Black hands of Beijing- George Black Robin Munro
– Children of the Dragon- Human Rights in China
– Bring down the Great Wall – Fang Lizhi
– The Power of Tiananmen- Dingxin Zhou
– Beijing Spring- David and Peter Turnley
– Prisoner of the State- Zhao Ziyang
– Escape from China- Zhang Boli
– A glossy propaganda book published by the Chinese Government called “Truth about the Beijing Turmoil”
Video’s about Tiananmen Square:
– The Gate of Heavenly Peace – documentary
– Moving the Mountain- Movie
– Tank Man – PBS documentary
– Democracy Crushed, Tiananmen Square – The History Channel
– Tiananmen Declassified- The History Channel
*How did some escape China?
“Operation Yellow Bird” is the name for the clandestine rescue from China of the pro-democracy leaders (“Operation Yellow Bird” is named after a Chinese proverb in which a bird rescues an insect being eaten by a grasshopper).
The Hong Kong-based operation, which worked with Triad criminal gangs to smuggle the dissidents across the border, is believed to have helped more than 150 people to escape. The average cost of an escape was HK $50,000-100,000, paid to the snake-heads who brought the fugitives to Hong Kong more than double the normal price to smuggle someone out, because of the additional risk. The more famous the person, the higher the price.
Yellow Bird received considerable financial backing from businessmen and show business personalities, many ordinary people who protested in Hong Kong and even public officials in China co-operated with the network in its early days, while diplomats in Hong Kong helped the dissidents secure visas for rapid passage out of the colony.
During Last week in May, U.S. Ambassador Lilley handed out more than 200 visas to Intellectuals, scientists, and students and on several occasions lent money to escapees in Beijing.
For 6 months after the June crackdown, CIA’s most valued agents in China, Hong Kong, and Macao provided a safe haven and means of escape.
The network operated with the active cooperation from the colonial HK government, which waived normal immigration rules to facilitate the entry of the fugitives and their escape to third countries in the west.
One of the main organizers was Chen Da-Zheng, a Hong Kong businessman, who said that, between June and December 1989, he helped 133 people escape, using thousands of dollars of his own money. He ended 20 years of silence in a long interview in an issue of the Chinese-language Yazhou Zhoukan.
One person who received help to escape was Chen Yizi, an adviser to the late disgraced party chief Zhao Ziyang, who fled from Beijing to Hainan Island in the far south of China where he hid in the house of a doctor. Two members of the underground network put him in the sweltering hold of a 7,000-ton freighter, which went to a port in the Pearl River Delta, where a motorboat brought him to Hong Kong.
Others included some of the democracy leaders at the top of China’s “Most Wanted” list, such as the student activists Wu’er Kaixi, Chai Ling and Li Lu as well as Yan Jiaqi and Wan Runnan.
Not everything went well. One of Chen’s main snake-heads, with a fleet of 56 motorboats, was arrested and given a life sentence. Four of his sailors died in accidents at sea, in fires and a collision; Chen gave their families HK$500,000 in compensation.
Two leading dissidents, Wang Juntao and Chen Ziming, reached Zhanjiang, in the south of Guangdong. But wrong intelligence led to their arrest and the two associates Chen sent to help them.
Fang Lizhi, and his wife went to Embassy for safe haven, and ended up sending quite some time there before escaping to the west.