Below you will find an article written by Radio Free Asia. This is the time of year they and we remember Tiananmen Square, 1989, when the Chinese government told its army to roll its tanks over the people, and they did so. What is it they were demanding of China? Freedom. Funny thing, ya know. Some people say others can’t handle it while sit in the majority of our country and try to take it away from us! It will be a cold day in hell…
(Go to www.rfa.org/english/news/special/june4/ for news, essays, and never before released videos and photos of the 1989 protests.)
Paint-Throwing at Mao’s Portrait Born of Frustration, 1989 Protester Says.
WASHINGTON—China has developed tremendously over the last two decades, but “in terms of political and democratic reforms” the system is unchanged, one of three men jailed for splattering paint on Chairman Mao Zedong’s portrait during the 1989 Tiananmen protests has told Radio Free Asia (RFA).
Yu Zhijian, who along with fellow paint-thrower Yu Dongyue was just granted U.S. asylum, described their high-profile May 23, 1989 act of vandalism as a product of frustration directed at the Chinese authorities and prompted by the failure of protest leaders to devise a response when Beijing declared martial law.
“Before we resorted to the violent behavior, we tried to communicate to the student leaders our assessment of the situation,” Yu Zhijian told RFA’s Mandarin service in his first interview since arriving in the United States in mid-May.
“We felt, as participants in the movement, that there should have been a plan in response to the martial law.”
“The day after we arrived in Beijing, we joined the crowd that tried to block the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] vehicles from entering the city. We talked to the students and ordinary citizens. I felt that they didn’t know where the movement was headed,” he said.
“As there wasn’t to be a ‘triumphant withdrawal,’ the leaders of the movement should have come up with relatively decisive responses. So we proposed three suggestions,” he said, including a nationwide strike and a takeover of several key buildings.
But on May 21, “when we brought our three suggestions to the Square we didn’t see any student leaders. So we gave our proposal to someone whose job was to maintain order at the Square…After that, the movement wasn’t headed in the direction that we had hoped,” he said.
Turned over to police.
And two days later, “We decided to smear Mao’s portrait with eggs containing paint. In our view, the rule by the Chinese Communists from 1949-89 was a Maoist dictatorship,” Yu said.
“The portrait of Mao Zedong symbolized the dictatorship of the Chinese Communist Party. We had hoped that our action would lead the participants of the movement to change course and bring the movement back from the brink of failure.”
The two childhood friends—along with a bus driver named Lu Decheng—hurled 30 eggs filled with paint at the portrait and were quickly seized by student protesters eager to distance themselves from the act and handed over to police.
Less than two weeks later, Chinese troops moved in on the protests with tanks and live ammunition, killing hundreds of people and prompting an international outcry. An official blackout on discussion of the crackdown remains in force, 20 years later.
“China has witnessed huge changes in the past 20 years. But in terms of political and democratic reforms, it is where it was 20 years ago. There has been no change whatsoever,” he said.
Mental health damaged.
Yu Dongyue¸ a former journalist and art critic, was convicted of sabotage and counter-revolutionary propaganda and handed a 20-year jail term. Lu received a 16-year jail term, and Yu Zhijian, a former teacher, drew a life sentence.
Lu and Yu Zhijian were paroled in 1998 but Yu Dongyue remained in custody because, officials said, he had never confessed to any wrongdoing. His sentence was cut by two years in 2000 and another 15 months in 2003.
Yu Dongyue is the longest-serving known political prisoner sentenced in connection with the 1989 crackdown. He spent several years in solitary confinement and was subjected to beatings and electric shocks, and friends and relatives say his mental health has suffered severely.
During an interview here, Yu Dongyue appeared vacant. He spoke haltingly and was unable to answer direct questions.
“As you can see, his mental condition is awful, just awful,” Yu Zhijian said. “Yu Dongyue spent 17 years in prison. When he was released he was a shadow of his former self. My heart ached when I saw him.”
Lu was granted asylum in Canada in 2006. Yu Dongyue and Yu Zhijian fled China through Thailand and were granted U.S. asylum last month.
Neither man would discuss the route they took to escape China, but Yu Zhijian notably cited Chinese-born human rights activist Harry Wu and his Laogai Foundation, for their assistance.
Asked how he regarded the 20th anniversary on Thursday of the June 4, 1989 crackdown, he replied:
“My heart is heavy with memories of June 4th. These memories will never be erased from my mind. It is a topic that pains me to bring up, especially when the June 4th anniversary is upon us. I am unable to sleep or eat. My mind is in turmoil. The movement 20 years ago was a noble one and it changed our lives.”
“The participants were not limited to university students. The general public—in the millions—also took part in it. In our hometown in Hunan, even the peasants stopped working in the fields. They were glued to the television. They were inspired by the patriotism and democratic spirit of the students.”
Original reporting by He Ping for RFA’s Mandarin service. Translated by RFA Mandarin service director Jennifer Chou. Written and produced in English by Sarah Jackson-Han.
Radio Free Asia is a private, nonprofit corporation broadcasting and publishing online news, information, and commentary in nine East Asian languages to listeners who do not have access to full and free news media. RFA’s broadcasts seek to promote the rights of freedom of opinion and expression, including the freedom to “seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” RFA is funded by an annual grant from the Broadcasting Board of Governors.
May you walk with the LORD always, and when you cannot take another step, may He carry you the rest of the way until you can walk along side Him again.