US embassy cable - 90SHANGHAI2272

BLOOD AND BITTERNESS: A SOLDIER'S TALE OF TIANANMEN

Identifier: 90SHANGHAI2272
Wikileaks: View 90SHANGHAI2272 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Consulate Shanghai
Created: 1990-03-26 04:29:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV MCAP CH
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
R 260429Z MAR 90
FM AMCONSUL SHANGHAI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 9387
INFO AMEMBASSY BEIJING
AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU
AMCONSUL SHENYANG
AMCONSUL HONG KONG
AIT TAIPEI 0095
C O N F I D E N T I A L SHANGHAI 02272 
 
BEIJING PASS CHENGDU 
 
E.O.12356:DECL:OADR 
TAGS:  PGOV, MCAP, CH 
SUBJ:  BLOOD AND BITTERNESS:  A SOLDIER'S TALE OF TIANANMEN 
 
1.  CONFIDENTIAL - ENTIRE TEXT. 
 
2.  SUMMARY:  A SOLDIER ATTACHED TO THE 38TH ARMY REPORTEDLY TOLD 
VILLAGERS IN HIS HOMETOWN HE WAS TRICKED INTO FIRING ON UNARMED 
DEMONSTRATORS ON JUNE 4, 1989, IN BEIJING.  WE REPORT THIS STORY, 
TOLD TO US THIRD-HAND, AS AN EXAMPLE OF THE TYPE OF TIANANMEN TALE 
CIRCULATING IN RURAL EAST CHINA NEARLY TEN MONTHS AFTER THE BEIJING 
MASSACRE.  END SUMMARY. 
 
3.  A LONG-TIME (NON-DSB) SERVANT OF A SHANGHAI CONGENOFF (PROTECT) 
TOLD US THE FOLLOWING STORY UPON HER RETURN FROM VISITING HER 
NATIVE VILLAGE DEEP IN RURAL ZHEJIANG. 
 
-------------------- 
THE BEIJING MASSACRE 
-------------------- 
 
4.  OUR SOURCE MET AN OLD FRIEND WHILE IN HER NATIVE VILLAGE WHO 
CONFIDED THAT HER SON WAS IN TIANANMEN ON JUNE 4, 1989, WITH THE 
38TH ARMY.  HE AND HIS COLLEAGUES WERE ALL SHOOTING IN THE AIR 
UNTIL WORD WAS PASSED THROUGH THE RANKS THAT ONE HUNDRED OF THEIR 
NUMBER HAD DISAPPEARED--PRESUMABLY KILLED BY STUDENTS.  A QUICK 
CHECK CONFIRMED THAT OVER ONE HUNDRED WERE MISSING.  THE SOLDIER 
AND HIS COLLEAGUES THEN BECAME SO UPSET THAT, WHEN ORDERED TO 
SHOOT INTO THE CROWD (THE STORY PLACES THE SOLDIER AT THE SOUTH- 
EAST CORNER OF TIANANMEN--NO TIME GIVEN), THEY OPENED FIRE WITH 
MACHINE-GUNS INTO THE HUMAN WALL BEFORE THEM.  WHEN THE RAMPAGE 
WAS OVER, THERE WERE OVER ONE THOUSAND DEAD ON THE STREETS, 
ALMOST ALL ORDINARY CIVILIANS.  THE SOLDIERS THEN POURED FUEL OVER 
AND BURNED THE BODIES, WHICH WERE LATER FLOWN OUT BY HELICOPTER. 
 
5.  THE SOLDIER'S UNIT WAS SOON REMOVED TO THE BEIJING COUNTRYSIDE, 
AND CONFINED TO ITS CAMP.  OFFICERS TOLD THE MEN NOT TO THINK OF 
WHEN THEY MIGHT LEAVE THE PLA, IMPLYING THAT THEY MIGHT NOT BE 
ALLOWED TO RETURN TO CIVILIAN LIFE FOLLOWING THEIR TOUR OF MILITARY 
DUTY. 
 
6.  THE SOLDIER INSISTED ON SEEING HIS MOTHER AND--DESPITE THE 
THREAT OF LOSING BONUS MONEY--WAS GIVEN LEAVE LAST SEPTEMBER. 
HIS MOTHER (THE STORYTELLER) SAID THAT, UPON HEARING HER SON'S 
TALE, SHE FORCED HIM TO GO TO A NEARBY CHRISTIAN CHURCH FOR 
TWENTY STRAIGHT DAYS TO BEG FORGIVENESS.  THE YOUNG SOLDIER IS 
BITTER.  HE DOES NOT BELIEVE NOW THAT HIS 100 COLLEAGUES DESERTED 
FROM THE RANKS, ONLY TO ALL SHOW UP LATER, AS HE WAS TOLD.  HE 
FEELS HE WAS TRICKED INTO FIRING ON DEFENSELESS CIVILIANS. 
 
7.  WHILE ON LEAVE, ORDERS FROM HIS UNIT WERE PASSED THROUGH LOCAL 
OFFICIALS THAT HE WAS NOT TO TALK TO ANYONE ABOUT HIS MILITARY 
SERVICE WHILE IN THE VILLAGE.  HIS MOTHER WAS ALSO APPROACHED AND 
TOLD TO KEEP QUIET. 
 
8.  COMMENT:  WE DON'T DOUBT OUR SOURCE IS REPEATING THE STORY 
AS IT WAS TOLD HER, BUT CLEARLY ENOUGH TIME HAS LAPSED TO 
ACCOUNT FOR SUBSTANTIAL EMBROIDERY.  WE PRESENT IT HERE LESS AS 
A CONTRIBUTION TO THE "EYE-WITNESS ACCOUNT" LITERATURE THAN TO 
DEMONSTRATE THAT GRISLY TIANANMEN STORIES CONTINUE TO CIRCULATE 
THROUGHOUT THE LAND.  END COMMENT. 
 
 
WARDLAW 

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