Thirty years after the People’s Liberation Army cracked down on weeks of student-led protest with machine gun fire and tanks, former student leader Wu Renhua says the scenes of bloodshed that unfolded before him on the night of June 3-4, 1989, will never leave him. Wu, who was among the last of the student protesters to leave Tiananmen Square peacefully by arrangement with incoming troops, said the students never expected the tanks and armored vehicles to pursue them down Chang’an Avenue to Liubukou, where an unknown number of students died:
Suddenly, three tanks from the first tank division of Tianjin military district launched a poison gas shell, then they accelerated and pursued the students from behind. One of the tanks — bearing the number 106 — turned around and plowed into the students from behind.
There was a Ph.D. student from the Beijing Aviation Academy and masters student, Wang Kuanbao, who were walking along with the rest of us, pushing their bikes. I never thought the tank would catch up with us so fast. They died on the spot.
I will never forget what I saw. When I got back to the University of Political Science and Law at around 10.00 a.m. [on June 4], the first thing I saw when I walked through the campus gate was the bodies of five students killed in the Liubukou tank incident. They had been brought back to the campus by Beijing’s private transportation drivers and laid out on tables in classrooms in the main teaching building.
I had just led a group of some 20 students back from Tiananmen Square, and I knelt down in front of those five bodies soaked in blood.
I was weeping in grief, but in another part of my mind, a voice was saying: “Never forget. Never forget. Never forget.”
A student from Renmin University called Wu Guofeng was on the ground after taking three bullets. Then an officer of the PLA army that was enforcing martial law took out his handgun and shot him one more time to the head, and a regular soldier bayoneted his chest and dragged downwards, causing a wound of seven or eight centimeters.
It was horrific. It was such a cruel way to kill someone.
This isn’t just about reawakening our memories of the past. More importantly, we want to force the Chinese Communist Party to confront these images in a profound way. The current dictatorial regime in China is the biggest threat to Taiwan; actually it’s the only threat.
We have to make protecting Taiwan’s democracy and sovereignty the top priority, otherwise there won’t be any elections for the people of Taiwan to vote in.