Tiananmen Square Massacre
I thank Senator Di Nino for that statement. As he mentioned, yesterday was the twenty third anniversary of the massacre in Tiananmen Square. As many of you know, I was there as a correspondent for CTV News. I witnessed the deaths of many young people. I will never forget that hot and muggy night, nor the heady days that led up to the horrible events on June 3 and 4 in 1989. History does not show that Beijing felt like a liberated city in those days. There were millions in the streets and they were not just students; there were doctors, teachers and everyday people from Beijing.
Today in China it is forbidden to speak about what really happened in and around the square, but I can speak and I will never stop speaking about an ugly footprint or tank marks on Chinese history. The images of dying students being placed on makeshift trishaws is etched in my memory. Sometimes in my dreams it does not seem real, but it was real. It was very real.
No one knows the number who were killed, but personally, honourable senators, I saw many die, dozens of bodies in city morgues. At that time the Red Cross believed a few thousand were killed. Recently, the former major of Beijing said in his memoirs that it is time for China to open the Tiananmen classified closed file.
We all know, and China knows, its leaders know, that time is long overdue. What is China afraid of? Is it afraid of the truth? I owe it to the families of those dead demonstrators; I owe it to those who are still living but who cannot speak; I owe it to those who survived. I owe it to those dissidents who in recent months have chosen to speak and are now in prison.
I have looked inside a Chinese prison. In fact, I spent a few days in a Chinese jail. It is not a very nice place. I owe it to a couple who, in fear, walked up to me on Beijing’s main thoroughfare, Chang’an Avenue. As I raced into the square that evening, on June 3, as we did every evening, on June 3, I was with my crew, and they said at that time – I will never forget their faces – “We want our voices heard. Please tell the world what is happening here.”
It is not easy watching someone get crushed to death by a tank, and moments after, as the crowd moved back, the crowd looking at you. They all rose up as one and began to shout, “long live democracy.”
I will never forget, and honourable senators, never should you.