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Page last updated at 18:23 GMT, Thursday, 28 May 2009 19:23 UK

Tiananmen figures: Local resident

Chinese students shout after breaking through a police blockade during a pro-democracy march to Tiananmen Square, Beijing, May 4 1989.
Some residents were aware of the protests, but were too scared to join in

It was not just students who took part in the protests that gripped Beijing in 1989 - ordinary people living in the area also became involved.

One Beijing resident who was in the city during the entire protest period said many ordinary people supported the students' demands.

"They were demanding democracy, freedom and economic development, and were opposed to corruption," said the 57-year-old, who did not want to give his name.

But from the beginning, he was wary about actually joining the demonstrations.

"To tell you the truth I was quite scared - that's why I didn't want to get too involved. I only observed."

But on the night of 3 June, he knew something was going to happen because all the television programmes were suddenly cancelled.

"There was only a government announcement telling us not to leave our homes, so I decided to go out and see what was happening."

He wanted to check on his mother - but at an intersection at Fuxingmen, just west of Tiananmen Square, he saw soldiers.

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"There were many soldiers and they were firing their guns. My first reaction was to drop to the floor," he said.

He ran towards the nearby children's hospital, where he saw more than 20 people receiving medical treatment.

They had been brought in cars and on motorbikes - and some had even arrived on foot.

At another nearby hospital he saw other injured people.

Reassessment

Over the next few days most people stayed at home; offices had closed for work and there was little public transport.

He says young people today know little about what went on 20 years ago.

"There isn't any information about this in any of our textbooks for primary and middle school students. But this is something that we cannot forget," he said.

The fact that this eyewitness does not want to give his name shows just how sensitive this issue still is in China.

"The government ought to rehabilitate those who took part, because what they did was for the country - for democracy and against corruption."

But he says that will not happen with this generation of national leaders, or even with the next - but some day that reassessment will have to come.

The local resident was speaking to the BBC's Michael Bristow in Beijing.



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