THE 19TH ANNIVERSARY OF A MASSACRE
I had promised myself I’d scan all the photos my friend X had taken during the night of June 3-4, 1989. I am exhausted and have managed to scan two-thirds. X, I believe, is living safely in France today.
Nineteen years ago, tonight, I’d returned to Beijing after traveling to five Chinese cities. Mr. Zhang, my driver, took me slowly past Tiananmen Square and told me the students will eventually go home. It was summer vacation, after all. There was laughter in the square, jokes told at the expense of the ruling elite.
As I scanned these photos, I was ever more astonished by X’s courage. I can tell he was all over the square and at hospitals. How did he ever manage? I can attest there could not have been images nearly as bold shot that night.
I was asked by a mutual friend, D, to take the rolls of film to Hong Kong for development. Then I returned to China 3 weeks later. The photos were not to show the outside world, but to men like the Chilean Ambassado sent by Pinochet--the paunchy bemedaled militaryman who once accused me of trying to run him over with my friend's car. He had been ensconced in his embassy and did not believe the massacre had taken place.
Here is my piece, "Life and Death in Beijing."
and an earlier post, a review of Ma Jian's masterpiece, "Beijing Coma."
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