Saturday, 6 June 2009
Posted by Sarah Pellew
Twenty years ago, on the 4th June 1989, pictures were burned into my mind. Pictures that I swore I would never forget, and a name that I have kept in my head all that time. The pictures were of the students and workers gathering in Tiananmen Square to ask for freedom, the name was Wang Weilin, the Tank Man.
There are events in one's life that touch one to the core and leave an imprint. This event touched me. The students and workers had gathered over some time, a few to begin with, increasing as the word spread. And the Chinese Government reacted by crushing them mercilessly and then wiping the event from their history with a brush soaked in the blood of innocents.
The man who seemed to sum up and symbolise the struggle was Wang Weilin. I sat in my comfortable life and watched as he stood before a line of tanks, one man, dressed in a white shirt and dark trousers, carrying a carrier bag as if he had just popped out to the shops and on the way had decided to take on the might of the Chinese Army. I have never seen a braver person and as I watched the tears streamed down my face. I swore then that I would never forget him, his name , or his actions.
This week is the twentieth anniversary of the Massacre At Tiananmen Square. In China it is as though it never happened. It does not exist in their history. But it does exist in the minds, hearts and memories of the brave survivors. Even now, 20 years on the Chinese Government is determined not to let the memory surface. When one man 1000 miles away from Beijing put a one line ad in his local newspaper in memory of 4th June 1989 he was arrested, imprisoned without trial and is now watched by the secret police as a subversive. The editors of the paper lost their jobs.
Kate Adie, BBC journalist, was there in 1989 and it was her pictures that I followed all those years ago.This week she broadcast a programme in memory of the events. It is moving, fascinating and well worth watching. I am posting a link to it here and if you have the time ( it is an hour long programme) please watch it. You will be glad that you did.
Twenty years ago the streets around Tianenmen Square ran with the blood of innocents. We cannot forget.