01/22/2024, 12.45
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Qi Zhiyong, who bore witness to Tiananmen with his body, has died

Maimed by People's Liberation Army blasts, for 35 years he continued to exhibit his wounds to recount the events of June 4, 1989, that Beijing has done everything possible to erase from memory. A former employee of a public company, disillusioned with the Party "that shot me in the legs," he had encountered Christian faith support in his struggles.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Qi Zhiyong, a man who was mutilated by the wounds suffered on 4 June 1989 in the repression in Tiananmen Square, has died from illness in a Beijing hospital and who - despite the repeated intimidation received from the communist authorities -  never stopped talking about the cause of the wounds on his body.

Born in Beijing, he was 33 years old and working for a state-owned Qi Zhiyong construction company when in 1989 he decided to join the students demonstrating in the capital's large central square. And he was also there when the harsh repression began on June 4th.

“I saw people run over – he said – blood was splashing everywhere. The tanks kept moving, as if the people weren't there."

Hit by the People's Liberation Army's barrages while fleeing, he ended up in hospital with wounds to both legs and one of his legs had to be amputated in the upper part.

During a transfusion for that operation he also contracted hepatitis C and a liver tumor diagnosed in 2017 led to his death, even if the family did not want to reveal the date and hospital where his death occurred due to fear of retaliation.

Courageously, in fact, during all these years Qi Zhiyong has always used his disability to break the silence imposed by Beijing on the events of June 4, 1989.

Qi said that after the amputation of his leg, he often wore shorts to show the scars and tell his story to anyone who asked. He said his state-owned company, which fired him because of the injury, had offered him 100,000 yuan (,000 in 1989 dollars) in exchange for keeping quiet about how he lost his leg, which he rejected.

“I will tell this story for the rest of my life,” he said, “because it's not just my story. If I had accepted that offer I would have gone mad: I have a responsibility towards this nation."

As a result of this behavior he did not receive any help from the "official" associations for the protection of disabled people. But he continued on his path, also committing himself to collecting the names of other people who had become disabled due to the "June 4th incidents".

For this reason - despite his condition - he had also suffered restrictive measures from the Beijing authorities.

In his commitment to the memory of the Tiananmen Square events, Qi Zhiyong was also supported by his Christian faith, which he had embraced in the years following the 1989 tragedy.

"I had been educated to believe in our government - he said in an interview - but the government shot me in the legs. Many people have lost faith in the education, politics and ideology of the Communist Party. So we rushed to church."

In 2017 he said he was praying for Liu Xiaobo, the jailed Chinese intellectual who won the Nobel Peace Prize and promoted the Charta08 movement for human rights in China, who died that same year. “I pray for him every day in the name of the Lord Jesus,” he wrote in a message.

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