US embassy cable - 89BEIJING18828

LATIN AMERICAN DIPLOMAT EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT OF JUNE 3-4 EVENTS ON TIANANMEN SQUARE

Identifier: 89BEIJING18828
Wikileaks: View 89BEIJING18828 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Beijing
Created: 1989-07-12 08:57:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PHUM SOCI CH
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
R 120857Z JUL 89
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 3168
INFO AMCONSUL HONG KONG
AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU
AMCONSUL SHANGHAI
AMCONSUL SHENYANG
AIT TAIPEI
AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO
AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
AMEMBASSY LONDON
AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI
AMEMBASSY PARIS
AMEMBASSY SEOUL
AMEMBASSY TOKYO
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI
USIA WASHDC 8777
SECDEF WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BEIJING 18828 
 
E.O. 12356  DECL:OADR 
TAGS:  PGOV, PHUM, SOCI, CH 
SUBJECT:  LATIN AMERICAN DIPLOMAT EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT 
OF JUNE 3-4 EVENTS ON TIANANMEN SQUARE 
 
1.  CONFIDENTIAL - ENTIRE TEXT. 
 
2.  SUMMARY  DURING A RECENT MEETING, A LATIN 
AMERICAN DIPLOMAT AND HIS WIFE PROVIDED POLOFF AN 
ACCOUNT OF THEIR MOVEMENTS ON JUNE 3-4 AND THEIR 
EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT OF EVENTS AT TIANANMEN SQUARE. 
ALTHOUGH THEIR ACCOUNT GENERALLY FOLLOWS THOSE 
PREVIOUSLY REPORTED, THEIR UNIQUE EXPERIENCES PROVIDE 
ADDITIONAL INSIGHT AND CORROBORATION OF EVENTS IN THE 
SQUARE.  THEY WERE ABLE TO ENTER AND LEAVE THE SQUARE 
SEVERAL TIMES AND WERE NOT HARASSED BY TROOPS. 
REMAINING WITH STUDENTS BY THE MONUMENT TO THE 
PEOPLE'S HEROES UNTIL THE FINAL WITHDRAWAL, THE 
DIPLOMAT SAID THERE WERE NO MASS SHOOTINGS OF 
STUDENTS IN THE SQUARE OR AT THE MONUMENT.  END 
SUMMARY. 
 
3.  DURING A RECENT MEETING, CHILEAN SECOND SECRETARY 
CARLOS GALLO AND HIS WIFE (PLEASE PROTECT) PROVIDED 
POLOFF AN ACCOUNT OF THEIR MOVEMENTS ON JUNE 3-4 AND 
THEIR EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT OF EVENTS AT TIANANMEN 
SQUARE.  ALTHOUGH THE GALLO'S ACCOUNT GENERALLY 
FOLLOWS THOSE PREVIOUSLY REPORTED, THEIR UNIQUE 
EXPERIENCES PROVIDE ADDITIONAL INSIGHT AND 
CORROBORATION OF EVENTS IN THE SQUARE. 
 
4.  GALLO SAID THEIR EVENING BEGAN AROUND 2100 HOURS 
WHEN THEY FIRST HEARD THAT TROOPS WERE ENTERING THE 
CITY.  THE CHILEAN AMBASSADOR WAS HAVING DINNER AT 
THE DRAGON SPRING MOVENPICK HOTEL IN FAR WESTERN 
BEIJING; THE GALLOS WERE DISPATCHED IN THEIR OWN CAR 
TO ALERT THE AMBASSADOR AND BRING HIM HOME.  TAKING A 
CIRCUITOUS ROUTE NORTH OF THE CITY, THEY DID NOT SEE 
MUCH EVIDENCE OF THE VIOLENT EVENTS TO COME UNTIL 
THEY REACHED WESTERN BEIJING ON THE ROAD TO THE 
MOVENPICK HOTEL.  THE ROAD WAS FILLED FIVE ABREAST 
WITH MILITARY VEHICLES INCLUDING TANKS, APCS, AND 
TRUCKS FILLED WITH TROOPS HEADING INTO THE CITY. 
ONCE THE GALLOS IDENTIFIED THEMSELVES AS DIPLOMATS, 
THE COUPLE WAS ALLOWED TO INCH ALONG THE SHOULDER OF 
THE ROAD; MRS. GALLO DROVE WHILE HER HUSBAND WALKED 
AHEAD OF THE CAR ASKING THE MILITARY VEHICLES TO MAKE 
SOME ROOM FOR THEIR CAR.  THEY REACHED THEIR 
AMBASSADOR AND MADE THEIR WAY BACK TO THEIR EMBASSY 
IN THE SANLITUN DIPLOMATIC AREA. 
 
5.  ANXIOUS TO SEE WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN THE SQUARE, 
THE GALLOS, AGAIN IN THEIR OWN CAR, DROVE TOWARDS 
TIANANMEN.  ALTHOUGH THEY ENCOUNTERED SEVERAL 
CIVILIAN MANNED BARRICADES AND PEOPLE WARNED THEM NOT 
TO GO ANY FURTHER AS THE ARMY WAS COMING, THEY WERE 
ALLOWED TO PROCEED.  THEY EVENTUALLY PARKED THEIR CAR 
JUST TO THE EAST OF THE MUSEUM OF THE CHINESE 
REVOLUTION AND WALKED TO THE SQUARE VIA AN ALLEY JUST 
SOUTH OF THE MUSEUM. 
 
6.  THE GALLOS POSITIONED THEMSELVES NEAR THE RED 
CROSS STATION AT THE FOOT OF THE STEPS TO THE 
MUSEUM.  INITIALLY NOT MUCH WAS HAPPENING IN THE 
SQUARE AS MOST OF THE FIGHTING WAS TAKING PLACE TO 
THE WEST.  BODIES AND WOUNDED, HOWEVER, BEGAN TO 
ARRIVE AT THE RED CROSS STATION INDICATING THE EXTENT 
OF THE FIGHTING AND THE FACT THAT REAL BULLETS WERE 
BEING USED.  AS THE MILITARY BEGAN TO REACH THE 
OUTSKIRTS OF THE SQUARE AND SHOTS WERE FIRED IN THE 
VICINITY OF THE RED CROSS STATION, MRS. GALLO DECIDED 
SHE WANTED TO LEAVE.  THE GALLOS MADE THEIR WAY BACK 
TO THEIR CAR AND DROVE BACK TO THEIR APARTMENT IN 
SANLITUN.  GALLO DROPPED OFF HIS WIFE AND DROVE BACK 
TO THE SQUARE, AGAIN PARKING EAST OF THE MUSEUM. 
 
7.  CONTRARY TO THE EXPERIENCES OF MOST AMERICANS ON 
THE SQUARE, GALLO SAID THAT HE ESSENTIALLY WAS 
ALLOWED FREE PASSAGE AROUND THE SQUARE, EVEN WHEN 
SIGHTED BY TROOPS.  HE SAID AT ONE POINT HE WAS 
STANDING ON THE NORTH SIDE OF CHANGAN JIE, JUST WEST 
OF THE SQUARE, WHEN HE FOUND HIMSELF TO THE REAR OF 
TROOPS ENTERING THE SQUARE FROM THE WEST.  HE SAID 
ALTHOUGH HE WAS SEEN, THE TROOPS PAID NO ATTENTION TO 
HIM AND HE EVENTUALLY PASSED BACK AND FORTH ACROSS 
TROOP LINES A COUPLE OF TIMES.  ANOTHER CHILEAN 
DIPLOMAT WHO STAYED AROUND XINHUAMEN AT ZHONGNANHAI 
HAD A SIMILAR EXPERIENCE.  GALLO GUESSED THAT SINCE 
MOST OF THE TROOPS WERE FROM THE PROVINCES AND DID 
NOT USUALLY DEAL WITH FOREIGNERS, THEY FOLLOWED THE 
GENERAL PRACTICE OF LEAVING FOREIGNERS ALONE.  HE 
ALSO NOTED THAT HE WAS NOT CARRYING A CAMERA. 
 
8.  GALLO EVENTUALLY ENDED UP AT THE RED CROSS 
STATION, AGAIN HOPING THAT TROOPS WOULD NOT FIRE ON 
THE MEDICAL PERSONNEL THERE.  HE WATCHED THE MILITARY 
ENTER THE SQUARE AND DID NOT OBSERVE ANY MASS FIRING 
OF WEAPONS INTO THE CROWDS, ALTHOUGH SPORADIC GUNFIRE 
WAS HEARD.  HE SAID THAT MOST OF THE TROOPS WHICH 
ENTERED THE SQUARE WERE ACTUALLY ARMED ONLY WITH 
ANTI-RIOT GEAR--TRUNCHEONS AND WOODEN CLUBS; THEY 
WERE BACKED UP BY ARMED SOLDIERS.  AS THE MILITARY 
CONSOLIDATED ITS CONTROL OF THE SQUARE'S PERIMETER, 
STUDENTS AND CIVILIANS GATHERED AROUND THE MONUMENT 
TO THE PEOPLE'S HEROES.  GALLO SAID WOUNDED, 
INCLUDING SOME SOLDIERS, CONTINUED TO BE BROUGHT TO 
THE RED CROSS STATION. 
 
9.  THE TROOPS BEGAN A SLOW ORDERLY APPROACH TO THE 
MONUMENT FROM THE NORTH WITH SOLDIERS ON FOOT 
PRECEEDING APCS.  FROM WHAT HE COULD SEE, GALLO FELT 
THAT MOST OF THE TENTS ON THE SQUARE WERE EMPTY WHEN 
THE ARMORED VEHICLES ROLLED OVER THEM.  THE FIRST 
LINE OF TROOPS TO REACH THE MONUMENT AREA, PASSED BY 
THE RED CROSS STATION AND IGNORED THE MEDICAL 
PERSONNEL AND WOUNDED.  AS A SECOND LINE OF TROOPS 
APPROACHED, THEY CIRCLED THE RED CROSS STATION AND 
BEGAN YELLING AND THROWING STICKS AND DEBRIS OVER THE 
HEADS OF THE PEOPLE AT THE STATION.  THE MEDICAL 
PERSONNEL PANICKED AND FLED, LEAVING BEHIND THE 
WOUNDED.  MOST PEOPLE, INCLUDING GALLO, FLED TO THE 
MONUMENT AREA WHERE THE STUDENTS WERE GATHERED. 
 
10.  ALTHOUGH GUNFIRE COULD BE HEARD, GALLO SAID THAT 
APART FROM SOME BEATING OF STUDENTS, THERE WAS NO 
MASS FIRING INTO THE CROWD OF STUDENTS AT THE 
MONUMENT.  WHEN POLOFF MENTIONED SOME REPORTEDLY 
EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS OF MASSACRES AT THE MONUMENT WITH 
AUTOMATIC WEAPONS, GALLO SAID THAT THERE WAS NO SUCH 
SLAUGHTER.  ONCE AGREEMENT WAS REACHED FOR THE 
STUDENTS TO WITHDRAW, LINKING HANDS TO FORM A COLUMN, 
THE STUDENTS LEFT THE SQUARE THROUGH THE SOUTHEAST 
CORNER.  ESSENTIALLY EVERYONE, INCLUDING GALLO, 
LEFT.  THE FEW THAT ATTEMPTED TO REMAIN BEHIND WERE 
BEATEN AND DRIVEN TO JOIN THE END OF THE DEPARTING 
PROCESSION.  ONCE OUTSIDE THE SQUARE, THE STUDENTS 
HEADED WEST ON QIANMEN DAJIE WHILE GALLO HEADED EAST 
TO HIS CAR.  THEREFORE, HE COULD NOT COMMENT ON 
REPORTS THAT STUDENTS WERE AMBUSHED AND SLAUGHTERED 
IN THE ALLEY JUST WEST OF THE SQUARE NEAR THE BEIJING 
CONCERT HALL. 
 
11.  LATER THE MORNING OF JUNE 4, GALLO AND HIS WIFE 
MADE THEIR WAY BACK TO THE SQUARE, AGAIN VIA THE 
ALLEY TO THE SOUTH OF THE MUSEUM OF THE REVOLUTION. 
HE SAID THAT FOR NO APPARENT REASON THAT ALLEY WAS 
THE ONLY ONE NOT SEALED OFF.  FROM THE ALLEY THEY SAW 
TROOPS CLEARING THE SQUARE PILING UP LARGE PLASTIC 
BAGS AND DRAGGING THEM TO HELICOPTERS.  THEY COULD 
NOT COMMENT ON WHETHER THE BAGS CONTAINED REFUSE OR 
BODIES.  AT THE TIME, THEY SAID, THEY COULD NOT 
IMAGINE THE BAGS CONTAINED BODIES AND HAD ASSUMED IT 
WAS GARBAGE.  ALTHOUGH HE DID NOT ACTUALLY WITNESS 
ANY LARGE SCALE SHOOTINGS ON THE SQUARE PROPER, GALLO 
SAW MANY CASUALTIES BROUGHT INTO THE SQUARE AND DID 
NOT DOUBT THAT HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE IN BEIJING WERE 
KILLED BY THE ARMY ON JUNE 3 AND 4.  HE SAID THAT A 
SPANISH TELEVISION CREW MIGHT HAVE FOOTAGE OF THE 
REPORTED MASSACRE AT THE BEIJING CONCERT HALL AND 
THAT THE SPANISH AMBASSADOR WOULD BE HOLDING A 
SCREENING FOR OTHER AMBASSADORS WHEN HE RECEIVED A 
GOOD COPY.  APPARENTLY AN EARLIER VERSION OF THE TAPE 
HAD BEEN BADLY BUTCHERED BY EDITORS IN SPAIN WHO HAD 
SPLICED TOGETHER PIECES OF THE VIDEO IN THE WRONG 
SEQUENCE. 
 
 
LILLEY 

Latest source of this page is cablebrowser-2, released 2011-10-04