Wed, May 29, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Wu Renhua still struggles with Tiananmen horrors

Staff writer, with CNA

Thirty years ago during the Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing, Wu Renhua (吳仁華) was a young lecturer at China University of Political Science and Law and was one of the 1 million protesters.

This made him a witness of the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989 that the Chinese government ordered the military to carry out on June 3 and June 4 that year.

Thirty years later, Wu, who has been living in exile in the US, still struggles with the horrors of that night, but instead of trying to forget what happened, he has spent the past three decades painstakingly trying to reconstruct the incident, sorting through the facts, lies and rumors.

Before troops began to kill protesters on the evening of June 3, he and the students did not believe the Chinese government would order the army to open fire on the crowd, Wu said.

Some of the victims’ bodies were sent to the campus where Wu worked and five of them were placed on the desks in front of a lecture hall, Wu said.

“I heard a voice in my mind as I looked at those bodies,” Wu said. “It told me I should never forget this. Never forget.”

Wu fled to the US after the massacre thanks to Operation Yellowbird, a Hong Kong-based rescue effort that helped the protesters escape overseas.

Wu has since devoted himself to reconstructing the massacre.

Based on his study of the surviving texts and the literary material available, Wu has been able to compile a list of the victims, the code names of the troops responsible for carrying out the crackdown and a list of about 3,000 of the troops involved.

“Reconstructing the truth of the June Fourth Incident is really difficult because the Chinese government regards the incident as one of its biggest taboos,” Wu said. “Little data is available, no matter if it is about the perpetrators or the victims.”

In his latest book The Complete Records of the June Fourth Incident (六四事件全程實錄), published this month on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the massacre, Wu revealed his findings, which often contradict the official statements of the Chinese government and the public’s understanding of the massacre.

For example, the Chinese government said the crackdown was inevitable because it was the protesters who attacked the troops and seized their weapons.

However, Wu said he recovered a list of 15 troops who died during the massacre and none of them died before 1am on June 4, 1989.

As the crackdown started a day earlier at 10pm, dubbed a “counterrevolutionary rebellion” by the Chinese government, that showed that it was the troops that opened fire first, Wu said.

Wu also looked into the death toll and said that 2,600, a figure released by the Red Cross Society of China, was credible based on his survey of about 200 hospitals and the more than 100 sites where the troops opened fire in Beijing.

The number is far greater than the 300 deaths released by the Chinese government, but far less than the 10,000 deaths published by Western media, Wu said.

Despite his persistence to disclose the complete truth about the massacre, Wu said that it was painful to revisit the tragic incident and his study of it in the past three decades has taken a toll on him.

Before the Tiananmen Square Massacre, Wu only had one more year to work as a lecturer before he could apply to become an associate professor.

“This is not how I wanted to live. I had my own vision, and I also longed for material wealth and social status,” Wu said. “My goal was to be a college professor.”

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