Tank man. His part of the story wasn’t on June 4. It was a day or two before. His was a moment of successful citizen resistance to a tyrannical government. There were many others in those times. There was lot of hope.
I was feeling such joy for the people I had met while visiting my father in ’88, as it seemed China was about to become something new as a result of their activism.
My father was in Beijing again in 1989, this time with a group of Canadian students. He had advised his students to stay away from Tiananmen Square because so much was changing and it was unclear what was next.
I can’t remember anymore whether I heard it before the shooting started or later as an explanation for how it all went wrong: the Chinese government ordered all of the existing troops out of the area and replaced them with more hardened troops from distant places, troops who would have no qualms killing unarmed citizens as the local PLA troops had declined to.
I am weeping again when I remember my dad telling me about how the Chinese students hustled the foreign students out of the square to safety when the shooting started, saying it wasn’t their fight.
I humbled by the integrity of those Chinese students in protecting the PLA soldiers who had been injured by angry citizens in the days before.
I remember the unknown hundreds or even thousands dead and I curse the tyrannical monsters who perpetrated that crime and continue to hide it today.
There is not much I can do to change the Chinese government, but I can help remember, I can watch and speak. I can oppose and remember and seek to redress our own state crimes here in Canada.