Chinese PLA Veteran Expresses Remorse Over Tiananmen Massacre in 1989

Alex Wu
By Alex Wu
June 4, 2023Chinashare
Chinese PLA Veteran Expresses Remorse Over Tiananmen Massacre in 1989
A lone Chinese man blocks a line of tanks heading east on Beijing’s Avenue of Eternal Peace during the Tiananmen Square massacre on June 5, 1989. (Jeff Widener/AP Photo)

A veteran who served in the Beijing Armed Police Fire Brigade during the Tiananmen massacre on June 4, 1989, expressed remorse and shared with The Epoch Times how he has become a rights activist.

The 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and massacre is known in China as the June 4 Incident. The Chinese communist regime’s military opened fire on unarmed pro-democracy college students and citizens in Tiananmen Square and major roads in Beijing, killing tens of thousands, after two months of mass protests against the regime’s corruption and demands for democracy.

Li Ming (a pseudonym) said that he was in the No. 31 Squadron of the 14th Division of the Beijing Armed Police Fire Brigade. The Chinese People’s Armed Police Force is part of the Chinese military People’s Liberation Army forces.

“At that time, the [ruling Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s)] Central Military Commission mobilized several military units, including those stationed in Beijing, and our armed police firefighters,” Li recounted. “We received orders to stand by to join the military action to ‘pacify the riots’ any time.

“The order given to our fire brigade was that we were allowed to respond to civilian fires but prohibited from responding to military vehicles on fire such as armored military vehicles.”

Li said that his squadron was notified of a fire emergency on the morning of June 4. An armored military vehicle was on fire in Mentougou District of Beijing, with one dead, one seriously injured, and four with minor injuries. Just as the firefighters were being dispatched, the “fire truck was stopped by the instructor as soon as it drove out of the garage,” he said.

The Chinese communist regime’s official media used video footage of military vehicles on fire to justify the regime’s killing of unarmed civilians and to support its “pacifying riots” claim.

Hundreds of thousands of Chinese gather in Tiananmen Square around a 10-meter (33 foot) replica of the Statue of Liberty (C), called the Goddess of Democracy, on June 2, 1989. (Catherine Henriette/AFP via Getty Images)

In hindsight, Li said it was fortunate that he wasn’t sent to participate in the assault on Tiananmen Square.

Brainwashed by Propaganda

“In the beginning, we supported the students and workers who were protesting, but during the period from May 23rd to 26th of that year, our views changed.”

He said that the Beijing TV station broadcast a video that showed a new recruit of the Beijing Armed Police Corps who was beaten to the ground by people on the street after being separated from his company during training drills in the city from Chang’an Avenue to Xidan.

“After seeing this video, we were all indignant, which changed our thinking.” He said that this is why they obeyed the orders of their superiors.

“At that time, I firmly supported the Party Central Committee and the government.”

Li also said that after June 4, all the training was suspended for three months and they had to go through “thought/ideological education” until September of that year.

“We, the front-line units, were not allowed to sympathize with the students. As military, they must enforce discipline,” he said. “That’s why we had to be ‘rectified’ to achieve ideological unity.”

In 1990, after three years of service, Li chose to retire from the military.

“After retiring, I couldn’t adapt to society because what we were taught in the military was completely out of touch with the reality of society,” he said.

Rights Activism

In 2004, Li’s village was forcibly taken over and demolished by authorities to construct a railway, and the compensation was unreasonable. Since then, he has embarked on the journey of petitioning to higher government for the local authorities’ wrongdoings and defending his and fellow villagers’ rights. He has become a “sensitive figure” in the authorities’ view.

He said his experience of a decade of defending rights showed him many truths. He said he was completely disillusioned with the CCP regime, which has also brought him to reflect on the Tiananmen Square massacre.

“When I saw the commemorative medal for quelling the ‘counter-revolutionary riot’ and heard people say that I had meritorious service in it, I said I was guilty, as I was against the people,” he said.

“At that time, I firmly supported the CCP’s Central Committee and the government. But today, 30 years later, I can see that the students and workers were on the right side, but I was wrong.

“I think [the massacre] should be rectified. What is wrong is wrong; what is right is right. Under the circumstances at the time, we didn’t know whether our actions were right or wrong.”

Li has now taken up another rights protection task: fighting for treatment and welfare of veterans like him.

Gu Xiaohua contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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