Tell us what happened to the two "Tank Men"
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June 4th, 1989. Tiananmen Square, Beijing. A man holding grocery bags steps in front of a heavily armed tank, one of many sent to crush pro-democracy protests. The tank tries to maneuver around him. He doesn’t let it. Cameras capture it all, and the world awakens to the Chinese struggle for democracy.
To this day, we don’t know what happened to these heroes -- the man in front of the tank and the man inside the who chose to spare his life.
Today, three of us, FANG Zheng, YANG Jianli and ZHOU Fengsuo, have come together as survivors of the Tiananmen Massacre and activists for democracy in China, we are calling on Chinese President Xi Jinping to tell the Chinese people and the world what happened to the two “tank men.”
The Chinese people remain under totalitarian rule -- don’t let the Chinese government’s propaganda about their reforms fool you. Those who speak out for democracy still face violence, prison, and sometimes are never heard from again. If we can get the Chinese government to tell us what happened to the “tank men,” it will help to push the door open to true, democratic reform.
Please join us, other survivors of the Tiananmen Massacre, democratic activists, and leaders from around the world in calling on the Chinese president to tell the world what happened to the “tank men.”
Here is a little more information about who we are:
- FANG Zheng was a student of Beijing Sport University. During the Tiananmen Massacre, FANG lost both of his legs when he pushed a fainted female student away from a charging PLA tank. FANG arrived United States in 2009, and founded the Chinese Democracy Education Foundation.
- YANG Jianli was a student of UC Berkeley when he returned to Beijing to join the Tiananmen Student Movement. After escaping the gruesome massacre, YANG dedicated his entire life in promoting a peaceful democratization. When he returned to China again in 2002, he was put in prison for 5 years. Upon his release, YANG founded Initiatives for China.
- ZHOU Fengsuo was a student activist in Tiananmen Square. After the crackdown, ZHOU was listed Beijing’s No 5. most wanted “criminal.” ZHOU served one year in prison without a trail. Zhou dedicated his entire life in fight for freedom in China. After arriving to United States, ZHOU founded Humanitarian China.
- Xi Jinping
Mr. Xi Jinping:
As China’s leader, you have vowed to comprehensively deepen reform. But some fundamental issues are inextricably linked with an unsettled history that makes difficult the achievement of true reform. Foremost among these historical issues is the Tiananmen Massacre.The Tiananmen Massacre took place more than twenty-six years ago, but thanks to the efforts your government to suppress the facts, the whole truth has still not come out. To this day, we do not know who the "Tank Man" was, what motivated him to confront the tank, or what became of him. Equally important, we still do not know who the brave tank driver was; what caused his conscience to halt the tank and refuse to fire; or what he faced for not following orders.
But we should know.
President Xi, only you can provide the answers to these questions. By doing so, you can demonstrate that your claim of fidelity to reform and the rule of law is not just a pretense. We call on you to immediately make this information available. In addition to your acceding to our previous requests for you to free Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who has now been jailed for seven years (and who is the only Nobel winner still imprisoned), your permitting recognition of the Tank Man and his heroic brother in the tank that faced him would start China down a genuine path to human rights and rule of law reform. It would also, at long last, begin the healing of all hearts still torn by the memory of Tiananmen.
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