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The Gate of Heavenly Peace
PROTESTERS FACE TROOPS ON WIDE STREETS
Whose Army are you?
On the evening of June 3, troops and armored personnel carriers began converging on the center of the city.
Far from the Square on Chang'an Avenue, the Avenue of Eternal Peace, the great east-west thoroughfare, troops encountered crowds at every intersection. This time they would not be stopped.
STUDENT WITH BLOODY HANDS
This is the blood of a classmate. I was carrying him. Blood was gushing out of his neck. I couldn't stop it with two towels. Blood was coming out of his mouth.
Even after the soldiers opened fire many people couldn't believe they were using live ammunition.
The crowds blocking the intersections didn't always disperse when fired on; or they ran away but came back to yell at the troops. The sound of gunfire attracted even larger crowds.
We heard over the student loudspeakers that there was a state of emergency in Tiananmen. They called on people to go and show their support. He wanted to go at once but I wouldn't let him. I said, "You are just a high school student; what difference can you make?" As I watched the government warnings on TV, I became very scared. But it just made him want to go all the more. I tried to hold him back, but he was so much taller and stronger than me, I couldn't stop him.
All along Changan Avenue troops encountered barricades, and crowds throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails. After an intersection was cleared, troops moved more quickly.
A young woman with a home video camera recorded the troops passing Fuxingmen Intersection, about two miles west of the Square.
Down with fascists!
Don't shout! Do you want to get killed?
Look what's written on that truck, "The PLA is for the people." What crap! They've just been shooting the people!
They're going to shoot their way to Tiananmen.
A lot of people will die in the Square tonight.
TIANANMEN SQUARE, STUDENTS AT MONUMENT SINGING
At that time all was still quiet at the Monument. Hou Dejian said that it was like being in the eye of the storm. A hurricane raged all around, but where we were, by our hunger strike tent, things were relatively calm.
HOU DEJIAN in tent on Square
This song is called, "The Beautiful Chinese." The students and the people of Beijing have done amazing things this past month. They've presented a beautiful image of the Chinese to the rest of the world.
Let's spread our wings.
People with a conscience,
Let's open our hearts.
LIU XIAOBO flashlight interview on Square
The government's intentions are now clear. There's nothing more to be said. The important thing right now is our unity and the improvement of our own organizations. In the past I have debated with a lot of people in my writings. I hope that in a moment like this we can put all our differences behind us.
Who will decide the fate of China? The answer is, the people will prevail!
HOU DEJIAN concludes song
Today we are beautiful.
Everything can be changed.
Everything is within our reach.
Around eleven o'clock, two hours before the main body of the troops arrived, a single armored personnel carrier drove into the Square.
Workers and Beijing residents stopped it. Someone hit it with a Molotov cocktail and it caught fire.
The fire hardly slowed it down. Frankly, I was scared and got out of its way. Everyone got out of its way.
The official loudspeakers around the Square suddenly came on and announced the emergency orders of the martial law troops. They said that the government was determined to suppress the counter-revolutionary violent rioting at all costs.
The huge Square, which had been filled with so many people, suddenly was emptying before my eyes. Only those of us on the Monument remained. It really was eerie.
That night I was at a friend's house. She came home around 11 o'clock and said the soldiers had opened fire at Muxidi intersection, and tanks were moving through the streets. I knew some of my students were still in the Square. I had to go there. I arrived at the Square around midnight and found all 12 of my students. I decided to stay with them and do whatever I could to help prevent bloodshed.
GAO XIN speaking to students at Monument
Calm down! Don't panic. There's still time before the troops get here. Let's not lose control. We will not back down!
Pushing the crowds before them, the troops now reached the stretch of Chang'an Avenue that lies between Tiananmen Gate and the Square.
We wanted to see what was happening, so we headed south and ran smack into some soldiers. They weren't shooting into the sky or at the ground. They were shooting straight at us.
Five workers beside me fell. At first, we said, "Come on, guys, stop fooling around and get up!"
But then we saw the blood. Some had been shot in the chest, some in the head. I rushed back to the Worker's Headquarters. Though I was really scared, I still managed to burn all the membership lists.
By now many people -- no one knows how many -- had been killed or wounded. So far most of the casualties were bystanders, and people blocking the advance of the troops.
Having surrounded Tiananmen Square, the soldiers halted and awaited further orders.
When taunted by the crowd, they fired.
At around 3:00 in the morning, several thousand students sat down at the Monument. They wanted to stay to the very end. A lot of blood had already been shed that night, but most of the students in the Square hadn't seen anything, so they didn't know what to believe. Everyone imagined that the soldiers would try to drive us away with clubs, and we would just sit there without budging, and let the blood flow.
Some students handed me a big padded coat and a helmet, and said: Mr. Hou, you're too skinny. You won't be able to stand big clubs or rubber bullets. Here, use this coat for padding. Everyone thought they'd only use rubber bullets. Then, sometime after two o'clock, a couple of doctors and students came running back to the Monument and told us that the soldiers were using real bullets.
Things were getting more tense all the time. Many workers whose friends had been killed in the streets gathered at the Monument. They were very angry and cried, "You students can talk about nonviolence all you want, but our brothers and sisters have been killed!" They pulled knives on us and told us to shut up.
One guy had a semi-automatic rifle. Some student guards and I took it from him. I was terrified. If any gunshots were fired from the Monument, the troops would have had an excuse to gun everybody down. So I tried to smash it on the marble railing of the Monument.
The people at the Monument faced a dilemma. If the students stayed and resisted, many might be killed.
But if they left, would they be betraying the many workers and citizens who had already died to protect them and support their stand?
We heard Chai Ling's voice over the loudspeaker. She said: "Those who want to leave, should leave, and those who want to stay, should stay." Chai Ling wanted to stay. We felt that Chai Ling's approach might be disastrous. People who wanted to leave couldn't do so safely, and those who stayed would be left in greater danger.
We came up with a plan to negotiate with the troops. We thought we should send two people, and asked Chai Ling to send another two representatives from the student headquarters. Together we would ask the army to give us enough time to leave the Square.
At around 3:30, the four people on the hunger strike came to talk to the students. They said, "Blood is being spilled all over the city. More than enough blood has already been shed to awaken the people. We know you're not afraid of dying, but leaving now doesn't mean that you're cowards."
Chai Ling told us she had heard that leading government reformers hoped that the students could stay on the Square until daybreak.
So Liu Xiaobo told her: "I don't care if it's true or not, but no leader has the right to gamble with thousands of students' lives at the Square."
Finally our student headquarters told them, "You can go ahead and negotiate, but you can't represent us."
So we went ourselves. We got into a van and drove only a few seconds before we saw the soldiers, all lined up on Changan Avenue. As we got closer the soldiers pointed their guns at us. They didn't know what we were up to.
A few minutes later, an officer appeared. He listened to what we had to say and went to report to his superiors. He came back and told us that they had agreed to our request. He said, "We hope you can convince the students to leave the Square." We rushed back to the monument to tell the students. Their opinions were divided.
There was little time to debate.
The troops sequestered in the nearby Great Hall of the People now came out and moved toward the Monument.
Soldiers with guns at the ready converged on the students from all directions.
The soldiers came right up in front of us. They were in full battle gear. The students all stood up. I was in the front row, with a gun pointing straight at my chest. It was only a few inches away. The soldiers looked really mean. Only later did the terror hit me. At the time I was simply stunned. I didn't feel a thing. I can't imagine what would have happened had they really opened fire.
I was in charge of the vote to determine whether we should leave. I said, "On the count of three, those who want to go, shout 'Go!'; those who vote to stay shout 'Stay!'" I couldn't tell which side was louder.
I knew that those who wanted to leave would be ashamed to shout very loud, while those who wanted to stay would shout with all their might.
Because of this situation, I felt that when the two sides sounded about the same, most likely more people voted to leave. So I announced the decision to leave.
At dawn on June 4th, after occupying the Square for more than three weeks, all the remaining students and their teachers and supporters left Tiananmen Square.
CROWD SHOUTING AT SOLDIERS
Down with fascists!
Tiananmen Square was empty.
But skirmishes between the people and the Army went on sporadically for several days. There were more deaths on both sides.
We filed out of the Square from the southeast corner. I was near the end of the line. When we turned the corner at the Concert Hall, several tanks came up from behind. Suddenly we heard shouts of panic. We looked back and saw people scrambling to get away, as a tank turned around right in the middle of the crowd. Then we heard screaming and crying. We ran as fast as we could, afraid that the tank was going to run over us.
A student I knew -- he was not from my university -- practically crawled out from under the tank. Two of his classmates were crushed.
His father and I waited at the university gate all night. At about 6:00 in the morning, one of his classmates came back and told us that at around 11 o'clock he'd been hit by a bullet and had bled a lot. He didn't know which hospital my son had been taken to.
I knew I'd never see him alive again. Ever since April when the first wall posters appeared on campus, I'd sensed that something terrible might happen. And, finally, it did. It happened to me, a person who had always tried to avoid trouble. I lost my son.