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It’s Like Being Cut with a Knife in the Heart

July 25, 2014

[Translation by Human Rights in China]

We had long known that there was a university student—Gong Jifang—who was killed, but her family had always refused our requests for information and to visit them. Our trip this year to visit victims’ families outside of Beijing gave us another chance to try to see her parents.

After arriving in Baotou on October 7, 2013, we contacted Gong Jifang’s parents through fellow families of victims. On October 8, after obtaining the consent of Gong Jifang’s mother, we went to visit her family. Upon meeting, everyone was very emotional; after all, we are victims’ families bound by our intertwined fates, and this was the first time that we had met in 25 years.

Gong Jifang’s mother Sun Yansheng (孙燕生), 74 years old, was a doctor of Chinese medicine; she is now retired.

Her father Gong Yansheng (龚炎胜), 78 years old, was a technical worker at an electric power plant; he is now retired.

Her older brother Gong Jiwen (龚紀文) is a cardiothoracic surgeon.

In 1989, Before June 4, Gong’s father was in Beijing on business. In light of the situation at that time, his wife wanted him to bring their daughter home. But he did not do that, and then the great misfortune befell their daughter. The blame his wife put on him led them to the verge of divorce. He has lived these 25 years in pain, guilt, and self-reproach. Just think, at that time who would have expected that the People’s Liberation Army would shoot and kill unarmed ordinary people and students? In their goodness and kindness, people were made fools.

When we explained our purpose in coming, Gong Jifang’s mother was very happy. Because she had recently undergone heart surgery, which left her so weak that she spoke in a whisper, she asked her husband to speak with us about their daughter. Just as we were about to begin our exchange, Gong Jifang’s mother’s younger brother came in from outside. He bluntly refused to let us conduct our interview, perhaps out of consideration of his sister’s health and other concerns, so we parted unhappily.

Although we did not find out the precise details of Gong Jifang’s death, we did learn that Gong Jifang’s ashes were cast into the Yellow River on June 25, 2013. And the information that the family did provide us was extremely valuable—more than we had expected.

Gong Jifang was a very beautiful young lady with white skin and large eyes, full of the vitality of youth. She was her mother’s favorite, a beloved daughter. But with the crack of a gunshot, the Communist Party turned her instantly into a blood-soaked corpse covered in wounds. When we saw this horrific photograph, my body shivered and turned cold. After leaving their house that day, I tossed and turned all night, unable to sleep. I remembered my son Ye Weihang (叶伟航). He was shot three times, his abdomen dark purple from being beaten, and his face dark purple from an expanding bullet that struck the back of his head. The pictures of these two children after they were killed were vivid and alternately appearing before my eyes, breaking my heart and causing the tears to flow. “Every time I look at these things, it’s like being cut with a knife,” Gong Jiwen’s words rang in my ears, tormenting me until dawn.

I finally understood why, in 25 years, Gong Jifang’s parents have refused to discuss their daughter’s death; why Gong Jifang’s mother’s family refused our visit; and why they cast their daughter’s ashes into the Yellow River. Indeed, who would be willing to dredge up this dust-sealed nightmare? It is horrifying even just to think of this unspeakably brutal scene. One can only let this profound suffering and boundless grief drift far away in the Yellow River.

In a hopeless situation, you only have patience and silence—this is also a silent struggle. So we can understand the feelings of these two elderly people and the hardship of their family.

We hope that these two elderly people take care of their health, and pass their old age in peace.


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About the Authors

Yin Min (尹敏) and Zhang Yanqiu (张彦秋) are members of the Tiananmen Mothers.

Gong Jifang (龚紀芳)

Gong Jifang (龚紀芳), born on April 14, 1970, a first year business management major at Beijing Technology and Business University in 1989. While returning from Tiananmen to Liubukou in the early morning of June 4, she was shot in the arm with an expanding bullet and fell to the ground. Unconscious from gas poisoning, she was sent to the Beijing Emergency Medical Center, where she died. Her death certificate states the cause of death was lung erosion caused by poison gas. She was originally from Shanghai. Her family resided in Baotou City, Inner Mongolia.