A Tiananmen Square Massacre Victim Qi Zhiyong’s First Hand Oral Account
January 25, 2024

Qi Zhiyong, activist who survived the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre, recently passed away at 67. In May 2022, he recorded a first-hand account of his experiences at Tiananmen and afterwards, living under repression from the Chinese government. In honor of Qi Zhiyong’s memory, Human Rights in China has translated his full statement into English, below.

Listen to or read the original version in Mandarin here / 读中文原文.

Hello everyone! Thank you for listening to me talk about how I got injured during the June 4th Tiananmen Incident in 1989. My name is Qi Zhiyong, “qi” as in tidy, “zhi” as in comrade, and “yong” as in brave. I am a Beijing native, born and raised in Beijing. At the time when I was injured, I was 33 years old. When I recall the scenes of the massacre perpetrated by the CCP at Tiananmen Square, my mood remains extremely heavy to this day. Not only are my wounds painful, my heart hurts even more.

Back then, I was an oil worker at the Beijing Construction Company, specifically City Construction Company No. 6. At 1:20 am on June 4, 1989, at Xidan, across the street from Chang'an Avenue and Xinhua Gate, on Xirongxian Hutong, I was shot in both legs at the same time, resulting in high-leg amputations. It has been 27 years since gunshots crippled me during the June 4th massacre in 1989. Although 27 long years have passed, I still vividly remember that spectacular student movement and anti-corruption campaign. As an ordinary Beijing citizen, I actively participated in the movement. At that time, I lived in Honglian South Village in Haidian District, right outside Xizhimen. Students from Beijing universities always marched past my home when they took to the streets after Hu Yaobang's death on April 15th because my home was close to many university campuses. Whenever they marched by, I would actively join in and follow them to Tiananmen Square. Initially, I just wanted to watch and see - it felt like something fresh was happening, so I enthusiastically took part. Also, because our work allowed flexibility, and it was Summer, so every day I would join in...

On the afternoon of June 3rd, around 3 pm, our crew was working on a construction site at the Taifenglou Restaurant on Qianmen Avenue. We had to work at night since we were oil workers doing indoor renovation and it was too hot to work during the day. There were four of us riding bikes to work. When we passed by Xidan Main Street, next to the Telegraph Building, right outside the west wall of the State Council where there was a hutong, there was a bus that had overturned. People watching said that martial law troops had just arrived to enforce martial law in the area. Why was that the case? Because that bus was full of soldiers, not civilians. According to bystanders and students, the bus was loaded with weapons and ammunition, so people had tried to intercept it. But when we got closer, we were chased away by arriving martial law troops or soldiers, and they set off tear gas grenades. When those tear gas grenades exploded - ordinary Beijing citizens had never seen such weapons or tear gas being used - everyone panicked from the explosions and the tear gas that stung our eyes. It was excruciating. Then, some brave people in the crowd opened the bus door, and there were all kinds of weapons wrapped in bedding. The soldiers who came to seize these weapons set off tear gas grenades. I saw a female comrade get hit in the leg by a tear gas canister, and she screamed in pain. Civilians could not get closer because the soldiers had guns and tear gas weapons that people did not recognize; some thought they were grenade launchers, so everyone dispersed. After the smoke cleared, people went back. As I had to cross Chang'an Avenue to get to Qianmen Avenue for work, this was the first and most tragic scene I witnessed that afternoon on June 3rd - it left the most profound impression on me.

On the evening of June 3rd, we went to Tiananmen Square because we had been busy with work during the day. Since we had to work overtime at night, we had no chance to see the Goddess of Democracy statue in the past few days so we wanted to look at the statue that night after work. My friend who went with me was wandering around the square looking at the big-character posters, while I sat on the ground resting as I was too tired. What I saw was that there were many, many tents on the square at the time; some had been taken down, but some were still standing. By then, most of the students had already evacuated the square. Around 11 pm, I heard an announcement on the loudspeaker saying that anyone who did not vacate the square would be “responsible for the consequences.” At that time, China National Radio and Beijing People's Radio had issued this kind of martial law order, or a warning, saying that a counter-revolutionary riot had broken out at Tiananmen Square, and troops were being dispatched to maintain order and clear the square. Anyone who did not leave would be responsible for the consequences. As soon as I heard this, I was afraid the CCP government was going to send in troops for a real crackdown and clear the square. Moreover, they made quite a harsh statement that anyone, whether citizen or student, who did not evacuate would face the corresponding measures or severe consequences at their peril. I was terrified after hearing this, not knowing what they were going to do. I called my friend who came with me and said “hurry, let's go!” We rushed towards the flagpole, heading north toward Tiananmen Square gate. “We were not in the square itself, right?” We walked in that direction. At that moment, I saw one armored vehicle after another, as well as tanks surrounding Tiananmen Square right outside the railings, racing back and forth as if it were no man's land, circling around and around. The sound of those armored vehicles and tanks was deafening and extremely loud, and you could tell at one glance that they were military vehicles. It was an extraordinarily shocking and frightening sight, with them going around the square one after another, also rampaging back and forth on Chang'an Avenue. At this moment, someone dressed like a student wearing a "democracy and freedom" headband, whose body and face were covered in blood, came running over saying, "citizens and students, hurry and run, hurry and evacuate!" He yelled that gunfire had already started over at Muxidi, and people had been shot dead.

By then, we had walked to the North gate of the Great Hall of the People. An armored vehicle was parked horizontally right across the road, on the divider in the middle of the road. That divider at the time was a simple iron fence. The armored vehicle and tanks crushed it flat when they drove over it, as if they were crushing noodles. Many citizens were on the road then, and the sky was red. It appeared that all the streetlights on the sides of the road had gone dark. I witnessed with my own eyes that the lights on the east side of the Great Hall of the People, the East gate, had gone completely dark at that moment, but after a while, they turned back on again. Only the decorative lights turned back on, and I could also see the lights on Tiananmen were still lit, lighting up Mao Zedong's portrait, and I could still see the tanks, armored vehicles, and soldiers. Especially when the lights at Tiananmen, the East gate of the Great Hall of the People, and other places suddenly came back on, I leaped up, shocked. There was a vast ocean of pitch darkness, and the stairs were filled with soldiers wearing steel helmets, wearing green military uniforms, and holding submachine guns. They came marching down the stairs, making “rat-tat-tat-tat” noises. When I saw those soldiers carrying guns, it sent chills down my spine. I said “hurry, let's run, hurry up and go.” When we got to Chang'an Avenue, I again saw tanks going back and forth from west to east, east to west, shuttling up and down Chang’an Avenue. I witnessed with my own eyes tanks on Chang’an Avenue in Tiananmen Square going into crowds of people and crush citizens. At the time, citizens and students had put up barricades on the square and Chang’an Avenue, trying to block the armored vehicles, but those street obstacles were utterly useless. Bicycles, railings, and such blocked the way but the tanks just rolled right over them. People stood there, hand in hand, loudly shouting, “fascists” but those tanks didn’t slow down one bit, showing absolutely no signs of stopping or hitting the brakes as they charged directly toward the crowds. I saw brave citizens and students trying to block the troops from advancing, but those soldiers seemed to have gone mad, driving straight into the students and citizens. I watched a citizen get run over by the tank treads, and his head smashed open just like a watermelon, his brains bursting everywhere. At the time, people in the crowd were screaming and crying out, “fascists!” I witnessed a man crushed into a pile of flesh and bone fragments by their vehicle. 

I walked west down Chang'an Avenue because they had armored vehicles coming from both the east and west sides, clearing out the entire stretch of Chang’an Avenue and charging into crowds of people who dispersed. I ran all the way to Liupukou in one breath. There’s a hutong called Xirongxian Hutong on the east side of Liupukou. I took shelter in that hutong because Liupukou itself was filled with citizens, but I couldn’t get through, so I could only hide in Xirongxian Hutong. That hutong was also crammed, full of people. Right after I took shelter there, I saw a whole troop of armed police coming from the west down Chang'an Avenue. The equipment of those armed police and troops back then was not as good and advanced as it is now. Those armed police at the time were also wearing steel helmets but carrying shields in hand instead of guns and batons. There were a lot of them marching in formation from the west to the east. Citizens were taking shelter inside the hutongs on both sides, not taking any action.

At this time, I saw an armored vehicle drive up to Liupukou and stop, and the engine turned off. Three soldiers, dripping with sweat, got out of the vehicle. Four or five student-looking people physically support the soldiers, they told everyone that they were following orders and carrying out their duties: “Does anyone have water to give them a drink?” At this point, I still wanted to cross the street to retrieve my bicycle because it was the weekend, and bikes were expensive back then. I had just bought a new one to participate in the movement and to pick up my kid, so I kept worrying about that bike. Those students propping up the soldier said that everyone was furious because there were shooting and tanks crushing people, and reports of live rounds being fired, resulting in people killed and injured. The citizens were outraged and wanted to beat them with bricks. The students protected the soldiers, saying “don’t do that, don’t do that, because they are just following orders as soldiers, we need to take care of them.” The students were extremely reasonable at the time, holding onto those soldiers and taking them away from the middle of the road. I don’t know where they took them. This standoff continued, and I could not cross the street because I was on Xirongxian Hutong across from Chang’an Avenue and Xinhua Gate. For me to traverse that road again was absolutely impossible because tanks were there and I didn’t know how many armored vehicles were coming back and forth from east and west down Chang’an Avenue. There were virtually no citizens or students left on the avenue, only tanks.

Right then, around 1:20 am, I guess, based on where I was standing to the east, there were three signal flares fired into the sky. It was around 1:20 am on June 4th when those signal flares burst in the air. I was standing in the hutong, seeing almost no people left walking down Chang’an Avenue, just the sound of gunfire. I stood there gazing westward and saw muzzle flashes from the armored vehicles. Just then, one of my coworkers who lived in Shibei Hutong near the National Centre for the Performing Arts called out, “Little Qi, how come you’re out here! Why haven’t you gone home yet?” I said, “How come you haven’t gone home either? Don’t you live in Shibei Hutong over by the theatre?” He said, “I went out to use the bathroom, and now I can’t get back home because my neighborhood is filled with tanks, armored vehicles, and soldiers, so I can’t return.”

When my coworker and I were talking, an armored vehicle and a Liberation brand truck came from behind me where I was standing to the west. This truck had a tarpaulin canopy over it. Through the tarpaulin, the soldiers inside opened fire and shot out bullets. Then they jumped down, with groups of three standing back-to-back and another three in a squatting position, holding submachine guns, jumping onto Chang’an Avenue on both east and west sides, firing at the crowd. In that instant, I seemed to have seen the martial law troops holding submachine guns, wearing steel helmets and green military uniforms, sleeves rolled up, only a white towel wrapped around the left arm, and no caps on their helmets. When I saw the bullets flying over, I felt like I was shot in the legs. I touched my left leg with my hand. In fact, when they opened fire, it was a burst. According to the soldiers, it was five bullets per burst. At that time, both my left and right legs were hit, and four or five people around me also fell, meaning we collapsed at the same time. Instinctively, I yelled out, “help, help!” These troops kept firing while running forward. When I shouted “help!” people in the dispersing crowd heard me yelling for help and said, “hurry back, there’s still someone alive calling for help!” So, everyone came back and rescued me. The citizens around me didn’t know how to help me then. Only a young man, wearing a new white shirt, tore it into strips to bandage my legs. Another kindhearted person took the wooden door from their home because they lived in a one-storey house, a Beijing courtyard house, and used that wooden door as a stretcher to carry me to the hutong next to the Beijing No. 2 Hospital, south of the concert hall at Liupukou. But unexpectedly, when we got to the gate of Beijing Hospital No. 2, it was locked tight. The staff and personnel on duty there said, “sorry, our hospital received notice yesterday that we’ve received orders from above to suspend services; it’s a directive from upper-level authorities that we are to suspend services and cannot admit any patients.”

There was no other option; those people had to quickly carry me again to an emergency center at Hepingmen, where there was an ambulance. From where I was shot on Xirongxian Hutong to the Beijing Emergency Center, it was at least two kilometers. When we arrived at the emergency center, inside the building, all the hospital beds were full, not to mention that outside the building; the ground was covered with injured people lying there. Some student volunteers, as well as civilians, were taking the initiative to help. At that time, there weren’t even IV stands left, people were just holding the IV bags high up by hand for the drips. Those kindhearted citizens carried me there, and I vaguely saw a volunteer who looked like a university student saying, “I am a student from Beijing Medical University, what happened here? what’s going on?” Those who carried me said “he was shot twice in the legs by bullets, and both his legs are bleeding, take a look.” The doctor felt the major arteries in my thigh, checked my thigh, and said this is arterial bleeding; the artery has been ruptured, and it’s dangerous. He immediately applied a new tourniquet on me. After the doctor changed my tourniquet, he told me very apologetically that medical staff and supplies are extremely stretched right now so it would be best if patients who could be moved were transferred out: “Don’t stay here because this is just a first aid station without the capacity to accommodate everyone. You might as well take him to Nancheng Hospital; it may be better over there, but other hospitals are probably filled up with the injured.” Coincidentally, a van, one of those rear-opening vans, pulled up. Lying inside on the seats were two injured citizens. The doctor asked about what happened to these two and where they were injured? One said a tank crushed him while the other said he was shot in the chest. The doctor briefly cleaned their wounds and bandaged them. He said, “don’t take those two out; go ahead and take this injured man too; take them all to Xuanwu Hospital in Nancheng.” I was put in that vehicle with them to Xuanwu Hospital. On the ride, I vaguely heard the driver say to me, “young man, don’t close your eyes no matter what, don’t fall asleep, listen to me talking to you, look over there, stay strong.” At that time, the two other injured people in the van had their arms dangling down with blood dripping off and flowing onto my face. I pushed their arms back up at the time, saying “don’t let your arms droop down.” But when I pushed them up, the arms dropped again – it turned out one of them had died. I asked the driver why his arms kept drooping down, and the driver said he probably died. Then I blacked out. The road conditions were poor with obstacles put up to block the martial law troops from entering the city, and the ride was bumpy and clattering, - so, gunfire and rumbling tanks all around.

We finally arrived at Xuanwu Hospital. When we reached the gate of Xuanwu Hospital, the driver woke me up. Many citizens were at the gate of Xuanwu Hospital. Despite the summer heat, they were all lined up in an orderly fashion on both sides, keeping the road clear for vehicles to pass unhindered. Although our vehicle pulled up to the gate, no one could drive in because everyone was waiting in line. Hospital staff and volunteers, that is, medical student volunteers, asked what happened here. They were talking about three injured people in my car, all of whom sustained gunshot wounds, plus one was crushed by a tank. The doctor, or student volunteer in a white coat, asked again to confirm that there are three people in total, two already dead, and only this one is still alive. They brought over a gurney and had me moved onto it from the vehicle. The doctor said, “he was shot in both left and right legs, can’t stand up anymore, and can only be carried by hand.” They helped carry me into the emergency room on the first floor of Xuanwu Hospital. I remember clearly that after I was moved into the emergency room, the well-meaning people who carried me in, plus Beijing citizens there watching, all asked if I were still alive: “he probably won’t make it.” I also didn’t know why, but my body was freezing cold at the time, convulsing, and I couldn’t speak at all either - though I could still hear clearly what they said. I just couldn’t respond or open my eyes. The doctor felt my thigh arteries again, and I heard him say “this man can’t be saved; his pulse had stopped, and the aorta had ceased moving.” He called me loudly several times, asking for my name. I said my name was Qi Zhiyong. He was holding a kidney dish or something and wrote "Qi Zhiyong" on my arm in purple medicinal liquid. He instructed to rush me to the 5th floor operation room to see if surgery could be done; if not, then there would be no other way. All the doctors and nurses in the entire hospital were called back and had come to work intensively trying to save lives.

When the nurse sent me to the operating room, it was likely around 3:30am. The operating tables were all occupied and in use. I had to wait until 5:40am before it was my turn for surgery. At that time, the person responsible for treating me called my younger brother, and I vaguely heard that my family members had arrived. They asked the doctor if I died. The doctor said there were no significant issues and I was still breathing, and they would do their utmost to rescue me. Then, I was wheeled into the operating room. Unexpectedly, the surgery took a total of 6 hours because I was shot in both my left and right legs by expanding bullets that ruptured the arteries. They transfused nearly 2000 cc of blood into me. The doctors said that I was lucky that hemostasis was applied correctly after I was injured. If not for the kindhearted person’s white shirt that was torn into strips to bind my thighs and cut off blood flow in the major leg arteries, then I might have bled out from excessive blood loss and died at the scene. After completing surgery, I was moved into a patient ward. All the beds in that ward were filled with injured citizens and students.

After four or five days, my left leg started to swell up like an atomic bomb. Compared to my right  leg, my left leg was exceptionally and severely swollen. The medical standards and equipment at that time were probably not as advanced as now, plus all the doctors and staff were exhausted. The doctors here had never seen gunshot wounds and tank injuries before. Of course, these were external traumatic injuries from tank impacts and crushing that they had never seen before and were also caught off guard by. As my left leg swelled up, swelling reduction surgery was performed, and a second swelling reduction surgery was done, cutting my thigh open from the thigh root all the way to the ankle, but there was still no improvement. By June 13th, the doctor decided my leg had to be amputated - although my aorta was reconnected, the aorta was shattered by the exploding bullet, making it extremely difficult to reconnect, that is, there was a huge hole  so there was only artery flow going in and no vein flow coming back out. My leg, toes, and feet had no sensation at all. The doctor had my mom sign because such surgeries required family consent. 

My mom was called to the doctor's office, and the doctor explained my injury and situation. He said that amputation was necessary, or the leg couldn't be saved. My mom cried then, saying “I wouldn't sign, how could I sign, what would I sign? I gave birth to and raised him; he had good arms and legs when he was born.” My mom is 86 years old today. My mom said: “I'd seen the Japanese devils and the Nationalist Party, too. What happened to my son? What wrong did he commit? How could the People's Liberation Army open fire and shoot him? Ah, this is still the People's Liberation Army, the Communist Party's military. How could the Communist Party's army open fire on the common people and now amputate his leg? I won't sign; you might as well just kill him.” My mom refused to sign at first, and at that time, my mood was in extreme confusion I truly didn't know how to face this, and I also didn't know if my leg would be amputated or whether I would survive. How would I live? My mind went completely blank, my left and right legs were still in pain, and I was helpless. The doctor said amputation was necessary to save me. So, on June 13th, they performed the amputation surgery on me. By July 16th, 1989, due to wound infection or an unsuccessful first surgery -the doctor tried to preserve my knee to retain the ability for me to wear a prosthetic leg in the future and be able to work, so he amputated below the knee, too far from the femoral artery. On July 16th, due to wound infection or something else, the doctor decided to perform a second high-leg amputation on me.

What I briefly described above was the process of how I was injured and the painful experience of the two amputations. To be honest, I really don't want to recall those painful feelings. I may not have described them in great detail either. In summary, they did surgery on my leg three times, amputated it twice, and slowly, the wounds healed. At that time, I was hospitalized at Xuanwu Hospital where there are still many citizens college students. I remember it very well. There was a college student called Wang Kuanbao, from the Beijing Institute of Technology, now living in America: his buttocks were crushed by a tank tread and shredded. Now his whole butt is gone, crushed by the tank tread, and he was possibly fitted with a prosthetic butt. To this day, we still keep in touch. He works at some electronics company in America.  He is still undergoing treatment, has experienced over ten surgeries, and to this day, the wound still hasn't completely healed, and he can't live a normal life. 

On August 7th, the doctor notified me that I could be discharged from the hospital. The doctor informed us that our work unit kept delaying the payment of medical fees. However, no one from our work unit came, only the security department came by twice. When the security department came, it wasn't to visit me, but to investigate what I had done, what I had seen, and what I did every day and why I went to Tiananmen Square. They conducted this kind of investigation not to comfort me or visit me. On August 7th, two soldiers, a police officer, and two hospital staff from Xuanwu Hospital's medical affairs department came and escorted me onto an ambulance and sent me back to my work unit. One of the medical affairs people said to my work unit leader: “our Xuanwu Hospital received and treated 273 injured and wounded in total. Among these, 273 were injured, and only Qi Zhiyong and one college student did not pay their medical fees.” My medical fees then were over 8,700 yuan, but in the economic conditions back then, that amount was extremely high. The richest people back then had 100,000 yuan at most, yet my medical fees were over 8,000 yuan. 

I remember very clearly to this day that number the medical affairs person cited. This one small Xuanwu Hospital rescued and treated 273 injured people in total. It is not hard to imagine the slaughter committed by the Communist Party in sending troops during the Tiananmen Square massacre shocked the world.  Just this tiny Xuanwu Hospital treated and rescued 273 injured people, all injured on Tiananmen Square and the alleys around, shot and crushed by tanks as they moved through the city slaughtering people.

Due to the medical officer's explanation to our work unit leaders, and possibly also intimidation from the soldiers and police standing there with guns, our work unit finally paid my medical fees. After my injury, I had lost my ability to work for the time being. Our unit was in the construction industry, so they wouldn’t be able to accommodate me long-term. They gave me sick leave to recuperate at home, with 50 RMB per month in living expenses and some food subsidies. To this day, I still get 328 RMB per month. There was no raise in 27 years, it is still 328 RMB. 

In 1989, I actively participated in the pro-democracy movement. I was barely home then, out on the streets every day: going to Tiananmen Square daily and to different places, to Beijing Capital Airport to block incoming martial law troops, helping students set up obstacles to stop the incoming troops, etc. As a result, I had a lot of conflicts with my wife because my son was very young then and not in school yet. Due to conflicts at home and financial difficulties, which led to my divorce with my wife, I raised my son alone with my elderly mother. After being amputated, I was relying on crutches and didn't know how to walk with them. Once, walking with one leg, I fell and broke my right arm. I went to Ji Shui Tan Hospital for that operation. The doctor there said that my leg injury was a bullet wound. I learned that  Ji Shui Tan Hospital had also rescued many other citizens with bullet wounds like mine in that time. 

Recalling the shocking, inhumane bloody massacre on June 4, 1989, that shocked the world, as a native Beijinger born and raised in Beijing, I still unswervingly feel to this day how it had provoked my intense hatred of the CCP as well as my longing for future democracy and freedom. At that time, the 1989 Pro-democracy Movement was a movement to oppose corruption, which is why millions of citizens participated in this movement. If you walked out onto any big street now and randomly asked a Beijing citizen about June 4th, 1989, nearly everyone knows about it, and each can tell a story about it. Pretty much every Beijing citizen can describe the course of events they witnessed during that bloody massacre.

What left the most profound impression on me about June 4th, 1989 was that during the movement, that is, while marching, the active participation of Beijing citizens really encouraged the students, workers, and staff from all industries, mines, schools, and institutions to also take to the streets one by one to show support for the students and bring them food and water. What left the deepest impression on me was an old lady who would cook green bean soup and millet porridge at home daily and bring it over. This old granny, pushed a cart, hobbled over with a big pot of green bean soup, and served it out bowl by bowl to the students. Crying, she said, “children, you have suffered. I don't have much schooling, I just know you students are out here to overthrow those corrupt officials, to overthrow those officials who embezzle the people's sweat and blood. I'm not that well-off, not a millionaire, and I have lots of kids in my family, so we bring you a bowl of porridge and a bowl of green bean soup every day to cool you down. Children, don't stop eating, you are the nation's pillars. Don't starve yourselves sick; the nation still relies on you!” She brought it up to the students bowl by bowl. The students were also moved to tears, being served the green bean soup and porridge brought by the old woman.

As for exactly how many people died in the massacre, that is, the exact death toll, the figure I remember most clearly was what that medical affairs person at Xuanwu Hospital who came to our work unit for money said. Just Xuanwu Hospital alone treated and rescued 273 injured people. On the floor I stayed on, there was one Wang Kuanbao I mentioned, a college student and also a female college student who had been wounded by tear gas.

As for what the ‘89 Democracy Movement brought to the Chinese people, I believe it brought the spirit of the ‘89 Movement, that is, the demand for democracy, freedom, anti-corruption, and political integrity, on top of overthrowing the Communist Party. Only by overthrowing the Communist Party can China truly move towards democracy and freedom. Although there had been 30 years of Reform and Opening Up, I don’t recognize it despite the many decades. Any economic reforms, achievement, or development has not changed my situation as a victim, survivor, and witness of June 4th. To this day, I still get 328 RMB per month in living expenses. Our work unit told me that if I filled out a form claiming that my leg injury was a work injury not caused by June 4th, they would give me normal retirement benefits, but I refused. 

As for the impact this movement had on me, my biggest revelation was this: I was a Beijing citizen at the time, a middle school graduate who received only basic education since young. This movement where the CCP troops crippled my leg, it's been 27 years now, but I won't forget, I won't compromise, and I'm not afraid of CCP repression. People say, many of them well-intentioned  say: “Little Qi, Qi Zhiyong, it's been 27 years, why do you keep bringing it up?” I say, “why can't I? I will talk about it every day, every year, not because my leg got shot off, but because of those who died, the citizens and students who died horrible bloody deaths under CCP guns and tank treads in Tiananmen Square. We need to live for them, we need to tell the truth.” Under the CCP's repression, June 4th has become a taboo, sensitive topic. Some people don't talk about it anymore, and some people perhaps leverage on the June 4th tragedy to get blood cards (US green cards) and live happy lives. But we survivors, the disabled survivors, we still live under constant prosecution and surveillance in such impoverished states. 

Every year on June 4th, and whenever Beijing holds the Two Meetings, the CCP Congress, I get put under police surveillance and house arrest, with my personal freedom restricted. The Disabled Persons Federation, local community offices, and our work units have never given me any subsidies and never treated me as disabled. They told me that the Disabled Federation would not provide any benefits or assistance to disabled people with my kind of political background. Due to age and hereditary high blood pressure in my family, I also have diabetes. Recently, they discovered I have severe kidney failure. Kidney failure has brought me great pain in my leg, and swelling in my eye: I don't dare drink much water either, and my creatinine levels are over 400. The doctor says I need to get dialysis as soon as possible but that costs a lot. 

In summary, after being shot and crippled on June 4th, 1989: for 27 years, I, Qi Zhiyong, will not forget, will not cower, and will not fear CCP crackdowns against me. I actively participate in rights defense activities in my daily life. And I've never thought of myself as a hero. I persist in this belief, taking good care of myself, living well, and striving to see that day I firmly believe will come when we see the dawn. Only by overthrowing the CCP one-party dictatorship can we truly live in a happy homeland of democracy, freedom, and justice. This is my life-long wish. 

Thank you, everyone. I will stop here today because over these 27 years, I have frequently accepted interviews from media outlets of all countries, and there are still many more videos and recordings online. It’s my first time recounting my experience via WeChat, so I don’t know how good I was. But in summary, I, Qi Zhiyong, have a responsibility and obligation, and I will continue speaking out, study more political theory, and learn from everyone.

At this time,  on the eve of the 1989 June 4th tragedy's 27th anniversary, I send my regards to the spirits of citizens and students who died in the June 4th bloody massacre under CCP’s butcher knives and CCP martial law troops' gunfire and tank treads, and to their families, my most sincere regards. Thank you everyone!

Anyone who wishes to contact me, please call my phone number [1360 1018964]. After I was injured and could walk with crutches, once I learned how to walk with them, I actively walked street by street. Whenever I had news of any injured citizen, I would visit them on crutches or in a hand-pushed wheelchair, and record their names and the condition of their injuries. There are too many. In collecting this list of survivors and the wounded, I met my share of doors slammed in my face, and hardship. But there were also many who were willing to speak out. I gave these name lists to Professor Ding Zilin. I can say I have never cowered, been timid, hidden at home, or avoided trouble after my injuries. The reason I have been put under such strict police surveillance and crackdowns by national security after my injury is because I dared to speak out about this matter. The national security and police hate me most for this. They always say, "Old Qi, it's not just you who got injured. Many people died during that time. Why are you the one who still speaks out? Why do you love to ramble about it?  If we want you to shut up, you shut up. If not, you will be in deep trouble.”

In the year 2010 or 2011, during the Jasmine Revolution, when Liu Xiaobo got the Nobel Peace Prize, I was brought to the police station. The police from the Beijing Political Police Department put a black hood over my head and took away my crutches. Two armed police escorted me, in one of their cars, to who-knows-where. Because I had a hood over my head the whole time, I still don’t know where I was held. During my hooded detention, the room I was held in wasn’t very big or small, around 30 square meters. The room equipment was soft-padded, and the desk and chair were covered by very thick sponge plastic, all cushioned. Two armed police watched me. This continued for a month and a half. No one spoke a word to me the entire time, there were no three meals a day and no bathroom, etc. Anyway, there was no door to the toilet lavatory. When I had to defecate, the two would stand in front and behind me. My sitting posture every day and the armed police’s sitting posture was the same: facing the wall, the chair didn’t even have a backrest. This went on for 24 hours a day nonstop, with the light on the ceiling constantly turned on, day and night. I had no pillow when I slept, and my hands were prohibited from being inside the covers. There was no sound in the room, a snow-white wall, only a desk, some paperwork, and a chair for me to use, which I didn’t. Because I have diabetes, my body is always itchy but I wasn’t allowed to scratch freely. If I wanted to scratch an itch or move around some, I had to report it. I had to say, “Chief Supervisor, I need to scratch an itch.” Only after receiving permission, could I scratch. A few times, I didn't ask the supervisor and scratched without permission and they slapped and kicked me. I wasn't allowed to cry either; I had to crawl up. With one leg, I had no footholds, and it was very strenuous to stand up.

During this period, the Jasmine Revolution, they interrogated me three times, each time criticizing me, cursing at me, humiliating me, saying: “Qi Zhiyong, you retard. You still think you’re revolutionary? You think you are this and that, so great? Let me tell you, with one order from above, I'll bury you alive! A lame cripple like you, so crudely injured, what can you do? No one's buried you alive yet!” During my detention, the captain of the national security squad interrogated me and said, “Old Qi, it's just you, so you got injured and lost a leg, we have so many people locked up, all stronger than you. Do you say you have theories, culture, and capabilities? You're just randomly going around, how much can you make daily? With nothing better to do, you babble to foreign media all day, giving interviews everywhere, and you only make a measly few pennies! Huh? Many were injured on June 4th, many have gone abroad because of June 4th, and many have gained from June 4th.  Who doesn't live better than you? You live in a 12 square meter run-down building. What are you randomly stirring up trouble for? Why don't you just peacefully live your days, why are you doing rights defense here and there, petitioning everywhere, sticking your nose in everything, nothing you don't participate in, right? What's the point?”

Even so, I, Qi Zhiyong, have never retreated. I have never seen my steadfast beliefs as a weakness. I also know my fellow patients at Xuanwu Hospital, and we all still keep in touch. But some worked within the system, and some went to America and Australia, they are truly living better than me. I'm disabled with missing limbs, who would hire me for work? Also, I have no intention and am unwilling to do anything within the system either. Even if I did, I wouldn't last because I don't watch my mouth, and I always talk about June 4th, never mind people's “feelings” or the occasion. I always talk about June 4th, so I'm an unpopular person.  

I should thank you, my Canadian friends. You have given me more strength and courage. Reporters often ask me questions like "what is your deepest feeling about June 4th?" I tell them the spirit of June 4th will live on forever. The people of Beijing, the people of China, the people of the world, will all never forget June 4th. The spirit of June 4th will always shine its light. The people are awakening, realizing what true democracy is, and what the people's pursuit of democratic ideals truly means. This is our belief, this is my greatest feeling. Reporters and others also ask me, "Old Qi, since you were injured, have you passed through Tiananmen Square again? Even if you just happened to pass by, what thoughts and feelings do you have?" I tell them I rarely go to Tiananmen Square. In 27 years, I've only gone a handful of times for media interviews that required my presence there to provide that backdrop and scene. Other than that, I don't go because Tiananmen Square is not a place of people's joyful songs and laughter. It's not truly the people's square. Tiananmen Square is the scene of a massacre. Whenever I go there, passing through or for something else, my nostrils fill with the smell of blood and gore. I will not go there. That place saw mass slaughter. I witnessed with my own eyes how the PLA troops open fire there, singing songs as they crushed people under tanks. I saw tanks roll over people's bodies as if driving down an empty road. They showed no hesitation, driving tanks and armored vehicles over people firing at civilians. I won't go back. Just one look at that square... [end].