After 27 Years, Survivor Reflects On Tiananmen Square Massacre

Apr 20, 2016

This month marks 27 years since the start of pro-democracy protests in China that culminated in the Tiananmen Square massacre in June 1989. To this day, the Chinese government tries to suppress what really happened during the protests.

But that hasn't stopped Fang Zheng from telling his story.

Zheng had both of his legs crushed by a tank when the military was called in to break up the protests. Both were later amputated.

Zheng and Saint Michael's professor Rowena He, who studies the Tiananmen protest movement, joined VPR to talk about Zheng's experience and how we remember the movement. 

Zhang, on the driver of the tank that took his legs:

"I actually do not have a lot of anger. I wanted to find out what was in the mind of the individual ... before he made the decision to crash into me. 

"About two years ago, with the help of friends, I found the number of one of the four or five people who were driving the tank and crashed into me ... I called him and I said, 'Were you one of those who participated in the crackdown at the time in the area?' and he said, 'Yes.'

"I said, 'I was there too, but our roles were different. You were in the tank and I was the one who was being crashed into by the tank.' And he said, 'Oh, really,' and then he hung up." 

Professor He on why we should remember Tiananmen Square:

"Tiananmen didn't end in 1989. It's an open [wound] for Chinese history. The Chinese mothers [are] not even allowed to talk about their children that were killed.

"The Tiananmen exiles, they still need us. [They are] still not allowed to even return home to attend [their] parent's funerals. Scholars who write about Tiananmen are banned from going to Chin; they will not be given a visa.

Zheng and He will be speaking at Saint Michael's College on Wednesday, April 20 at 7 p.m.