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May 17, 2009

Page: 23/35

Home > 2009 Issues > May 17, 2009

Tiananmen survivor recalls Communist terror
By Audra Ang

The demonstrations at Tiananmen Square began when students put-up posters praising deposed chief Hu Yaobang and indirectly criticising the hardliners who forced his resignation. Thousands marched in Beijing and Shanghai shouting, ?Long live Hu Yaobang! Long live democracy!?

Within days, tens of thousands of students surged past police lines and filled Tiananmen Square. The protests soon spread to other cities.

In mid-May of 1989 students began a hunger strike at Tiananmen, forcing the Government to move a welcoming ceremony for visiting Soviet President Mikhail S Gorbachev to the airport.

On the afternoon of 3-6-89, Qi Zhiyong saw two male students carrying an injured female student, who screamed in pain. People on bicycles delivered messages to the demonstrators about tanks and armoured carriers moving toward the square.

Around 11 pm, Qi says, he followed his co-workers back to Tiananmen to see the 33-foot-tall ?Goddess of Democracy,? a Statue of Liberty lookalike unveiled days before by the protesters.

?I realised there were soldiers all around, with rifles, helmets and dark glasses,? Qi says. ?I was frightened because I had seen such scenes only on TV, in movies about German fascists.?

The tanks were moving down the Avenue of Eternal Peace, Beijing?s main thoroughfare, flattening guard rails ?like they were noodles,? he says. Qi ran through a warren of alleyways near the square, trying to find somewhere to hide. Riot police wearing helmets and boots and carrying shields as tall as a man marched in groups.

Near the Zhongnanhai compound, where China?s leaders live and work, he saw squads of soldiers standing guard. In a macabre dance, the unarmed men in the front row crouched, the ones in the back fired their rifles and the front row popped back up.

A truck covered with canvas came into view. Soldiers, their sweat-soaked uniforms a deep green, jumped off the truck and advanced three in a row. People fled in terror down an alleyway.

?The next thing I saw was people falling one after another. Then I fell,? Qi says, grimacing as he recalled the dizziness and pain of being shot. ?Help me!? he shouted.

A passer-by bound Qi?s wound with his white shirt while a woman broke the wooden door off her home for use as a stretcher.

Qi finally was put onto a small bus going to the Xuanwu hospital, which he reached five hours after he was shot.

Courtesy: The Pioneer

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