"They made war against people"; survivor Shao Jiang remembers when Chinese army started Tiananmen massacre
30 years on since the violent repression Amnesty International UK challenged silence of Chinese government with a vigil outside Embassy in London
"I have witnessed many tank men trying to stop the army during the massacre" Shao recalls in a upsetting visual memory: the army was also burning something nearby the square and this rises the doubt victims' bodies might have been burnt in order to destroy evidence of the actual death toll
Shao remembers when he was arrested in London in what he describes as the result of an agreement between British and Chinese governments to prevent protests or dissent during the state visit of president Xi Jinping in 2015.
London 2 June 2019 - Dr Shao Jiang is a living symbol of Tiananmen massacre: he was there when the Chinese army under the order of Deng Xiaoping and other Communist Party leaders started to kill the students led protest as the uprising was spreading in 400 other cities and members of the Communist Party were starting to join the protest. 300,000 troops opened fire against thousands of peaceful protesters who were asking a democratic change in the Beijing central square on June Fourth 1989, a date Chinese regimes censored over 30 years: from that tragic day until now the date has been cancelled, remembrances and vigils prohibited, the bloody repression erased even from Chinese history books.
The cruel massacre marked with blood the recent history of China, second global economic power, but among the first for human rights violations. “It’s still difficult to have an idea of the number of the victims - says Shao - but we have to count not just those killed in the square, but also those who disappeared, those who died in the 50 hospitals of Beijing, those arrested and tortured. In the evening of 3 June, Shao witnessed the killings of “many students just put against a wall and shot” in West Chang’an Avenue. Then, instead of escaping to save his own life, he run back to Tiananmen Square to warn protesters the army was carrying out a massacre: “It was war against the people”.
Shao was jailed for 18 months in a series of provincial and national prisons from 1989 to 1991, and again detained and put under house arrest for his involvement in civil resistance between 1994 and 1997. He then escaped China in 1997. Now he lives in London from 2003, but in 2015, during the state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to David Cameron, Shao, an academic the UK should protect as a refugee and treat as a hero, was instead arrested by the police following what he describes as an agreement between Chinese and British governments.
This 4th June will not be cleared from our memory: Amnesty International organised a series of events to shed a lantern of hope for justice and in memory of the victims along with the many unknown tank men who, like the one awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize, challenged Communist regime thirty years ago: Shao, along with Amnesty UK Director Kate Allen, will place a ‘Tiananmen Square’ sign immediately outside the Chinese Embassy building, before starting a vigil; the surrounding streets will be symbolically renamed after Tiananmen.
On June 4th 1989 nearly one million people were in Tiananmen Square after weeks of peaceful protest and hunger strike to ask basic rights and a democratic system. Over six weeks, the rallies expanded across China and even some political representatives favourable to reforms joined the student led massive protest. On 20 May the regime declared martial law and military occupied the capital before starting the massacre of civilians on June 3rd. Tiananmen has been the last mass uprising for democracy in China's history, apart from protests in Hong Kong. Today death toll is still unknown while Chinese governments over 30 years censored any remembrance of the Massacre.