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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 June, 2004, 12:41 GMT 13:41 UK
Witnessing Tiananmen: Night of bloodshed
Soldiers rush out of the Great Hall of the People, early morning 04/06/1989 (64memo.com)
Early on 4 June, soldiers started clearing the square
Fifteen years ago, China was rocked by huge protests and calls for change, before these were brutally crushed by tanks around Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

The BBC's Chinese Service has interviewed some of those who witnessed the protests and subsequent bloodshed.

Cheng Zhen was a student at Beijing Normal University. She now lives in the United States.

On the day before 4 June, we already had a feeling that something serious was about to happen.

I remember that on the afternoon beforehand, a sudden strong gale was blowing and there was a tremendous downpour of rain.

The whole of Tiananmen Square - and even the whole of Beijing - was dark, which added to the intense atmosphere.

I ran over to him, and saw that his eyeballs were white
Cheng Zhen
When the evening finally came, we did not know what to do.

So I said: "I still have 10 yuan in my pocket. Why don't we go and have our last supper?"

There were no restaurants near Tiananmen Square, except the restaurant at the Beijing Hotel. But we were not sure if we had enough money.

We decided we would just spend what we had, and buy what we could.

So we ordered two dishes, but before we could even start to eat we suddenly heard the sound of gunfire from outside.

It made us feel really nervous. We quickly put down everything and ran outside, and returned to the square.

Zhao Ziyang, 19 May 1989
15 April - Reformist leader Hu Yaobang dies
22 April - Hu's memorial service, thousands call for faster reforms
13 May - Students begin hunger strike as power struggle grips Communist party
15 May - Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev visits China
19 May - Zhao Ziyang (pictured) makes tearful appeal to students to leave
20 May - Martial law declared in Beijing
3-4 June - Security forces clear the square, killing hundreds

It was almost 1am when we got there. We had to take a detour because of the roadblocks around Liubukou.

We got to the centre of the square and then went over to the side of the Chinese History and Revolution Museums.

A large number of troops were there. At the time there were less than 20 students, holding hands and sitting on the ground facing the troops, hoping they would not rush into the square.

I joined in with the students. The troops on our side of the square didn't do anything at all, but at about 2am we could hear troops on the other side of the square moving in.

Then suddenly everybody was standing up, and a military vehicle had been set on fire.

We could see that the troops were already in the square, and we quickly ran to the other side - where the square joins Chaoyang Street.

We did not actually know what we could do. We ran over there just because of the fire.

While I was running, I noticed a young man ahead of me.

He picked up a bottle on the ground, and was about to throw it at the troops, angry because they were holding up their guns and firing.

Suddenly, he fell to the ground.

I wasn't sure what was happening, but I knew he was in trouble. I ran over to him, and saw that his eyeballs were white.

He was shot in the front. Blood was coming out through a big hole in his back.

Actually, at first, I didn't see the blood coming from his back but knew he was shot in the front.

I held him up, holding his head. Several boys held his hands and legs. We tried to carry him to the centre of the square for medical help.

My legs and trousers were covered in his blood.

Then I saw blood coming out from his back. I said, "Oh no. He is not bleeding from the front. It's his back. Turn him over - quickly!"

People came with a large bundle of bandages. Somehow we tried to stop the bleeding.

But we didn't really know how to help. We were not medically trained. We only knew to tighten the bandages, hoping to stop the bleeding.

We turned him over again. We could still see only the white in his eyes. His face was also white as a sheet. I was totally numb, not knowing what to do.

I just looked at him. I was not crying or anything - I just stood there.

Then several other people carried him to the emergency centre. I did not know what happened to him afterwards.

I just stood there, not knowing what to do. All the while, the troops were firing in our direction.

Even when we were carrying the boy, we were fired upon.

Later, someone came over and gave me a tug.

Seeing I was not reacting much, he just dragged me along, back to the centre of the square.

We will be publishing other interviews in the run-up to the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4. The first three articles in the series can be seen here:


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