Qi Zhiyong, male, born on May 15, 1956, was 33 when he was wounded. He was originally a Grade Six painter in the Beijing No. Six Municipal Construction company, but now works as a self-employed street peddler. On June 4, 1989, at 1:20 a.m., he was wounded in West Rongxian Alley, in Xidan District. He was shot simultaneously in both legs, and is a double amputee.
It has been ten years since June 4, 1989, and the shooting which resulted in my becoming disabled. I am now 43. Both my legs were amputated, and whenever it rains or whenever I remember those fearful events, I feel both pain and numbness in what remains of my legs.
At that time I lived in Haidian District, in Honglian South Village. Our painting team had a project on Qianmen Road, at the Qinfeng Restaurant. At 3:00 p.m. on June 3, four of us cycled to work. Since the weather was hot, we planned to work in the afternoon and continue into the evening. As we came to the Telegraph Building on Xidan Avenue, near the western wall of the State Council building, there was an overturned bus, and we heard onlookers say, "The military police have just been firing tear gas." (Later, when I was in the hospital, there was a girl college student who had been hit in the right leg by a tear gas grenade.) Because the crowd was so dense, we could not ride our bikes, so we decided to leave them near the wall and walk to the construction site.
On the evening of June 3, we went to Tiananmen Square. We had always been too busy during the daytime to go to see the "Goddess of Democracy," so we decided to go and see it that the evening. A few people were reading the big-character posters in a leisurely fashion, and I sat down on the ground to rest. At 11:00 p.m., there was an announcement over the loudspeakers: "If you do not leave the square, you will be responsible for the consequences." I began to feel apprehensive and urged the people I had come with to leave at once. Then an armored car came whizzing into the eastern side of the square. It drove in a circle around the square and a man on a bike yelled, "Get out! They're shooting in Muxudi District. They're killing people!"
We went towards the north door of the Great Hall of the People and saw an armored car speed past the barriers on the road, meeting no resistance at all. The people around us, terrified, scattered in all directions and I dashed to West Rongxian Alley, to the west of Liubukou, hoping to cross the road and get my bike. Then, a big group of military police, armed with clubs and shields, came down the western side of Chang'an Boulevard. They entered from the west and headed east, and the armored car stopped when it reached Liubukou. Three soldiers, dripping with sweat, emerged from the vehicle. Immediately, four or five students surrounded them and, turning to the crowd, said, "These are the People's own soldiers and our elder brothers-they're under orders, and if anyone has some water, please share it with them."
I was still hoping to cross the road to get my bike. Just then, a brick was hurled out from behind the red wall of the People's Congress building. There was still light above the trees. I went back again into West Rongxian Alley, and suddenly heard shooting. I saw a signal flare rising to the east. It was about 1:20 a.m. on June 4. From the alley, I saw that there were no longer any crowds on Chang'an Boulevard and I heard only gunfire. I stood watching the lights of armored cars to the west. Then a friend called to me from Shipai Alley. I shouted, "Why haven't you gone home?" He said that the alley was full of tanks; it was impossible to get there. We talked as we listened to the shots, and we thought they sounded like rubber bullets! Just as we said those words, I saw several soldiers in camouflage with assault rifles running up from the left. There was no time to hide. I suddenly fell and felt that I had been shot in the leg. I covered my left leg with my hand and blood spurted out like a fountain. I cried out for help. Several people ran over. They saw that I was alive but had been hit in the leg. A young man took off his jacket, ripped off a piece and used it to bind up my leg. Only then did we realize that my right leg had also been hit. Those good-hearted people picked me up and said they would rush me to a hospital. Then an old lady said, "Wait a minute, son, I'll run and get a board from my house." Thus people carried me to City Hospital No.2, but for some reason it was closed. Finally, they took me to an emergency medical center.
It is about two kilometers from West Rongxian Alley, where I was shot, to the medical center. There we saw wounded people lying on the ground outside the door, and some people were receiving transfusions. A university student working as a volunteer, looked me over and said to a physician, "Doctor, he's bleeding from a major artery. It's very serious." The doctor swapped the bandage for a tourniquet. Then, fortunately, a minibus drove up and the doctor said there was no time to lose: I should go quickly to the southern part of the city, where conditions might be a little better. I was carried to the bus, which already held several wounded people. The bus drove along, and suddenly the left hand of the person on my left fell off! I tried to rouse him but he didn't answer, and the driver said he had probably died. Then I fainted.
When I came to, I was in Xuanwu District Hospital. The emergency room doctor felt my thigh and said, "I can't find a pulse here. What's your name?" I told him and he wrote it on my arm and said, "Get him to the fifth floor, to surgery, at once!". When I got to the operating room, it was about 3:30 a.m., and since the room was in use, I waited until 5:40 a.m. for the operation. The person who had rescued me called my younger brother, who had asked the doctor whether I had died. The doctor said, "It's not serious. We can save him. He's still wearing his shoes. If the shoes are there, so is the patient; if the shoes are gone, the patient is done for!" The entire operation lasted six hours, because it involved both legs, and I received 1,800 ccs of blood. A major artery in my left leg was damaged, and the doctor said I was fortunate to have a strong constitution, because if I had lost any more blood I would have died.
Several days passed. My left leg began to swell, and I underwent an operation to reduce the swelling. On June 13, the doctor decided to amputate due to poor circulation. He asked my mother to give her written permission for the surgery. When she heard the word "amputation," she began to cry. "I won't sign the papers! I gave birth to a child with healthy arms and legs. When I was young, I saw Japanese soldiers, the KMT and the Eighth Route Army, too. My son-shot by the PLA-his leg about to be amputated! I won't sign! Just go ahead and kill him! What crime did he commit?" My own feelings were in turmoil, and I couldn't express myself clearly. Why was I suffering this way? I was born in the new society; I grew up under the red flag; from childhood I had always hoped to be a PLA soldier and defend my country. I never thought I would be crippled by a PLA bullet.
On July 16, I underwent a second amputation due to infection. The hot weather made my left leg ache, and thinking of my crippled legs, I did not know how I would manage. My work unit was reluctant to pay my hospital expenses and delayed paying them. On August 7, two soldiers, a policeman and two people from the hospital took me in a car to my unit, and a doctor said to the director, "Our hospital treated altogether 273 people, and only his expenses and those of one university student are still unpaid." Only then did the unit pay for my medical treatment.
There was no way for the unit to arrange a job for me. I went through the formalities of resigning and each month they give me 50 yuan for living expenses and a subsidy for non-staple foods. Because of all this, my wife left me, and my seven-year-old and I son live with my elderly mother. At the beginning, when I started to walk with crutches, I was completely unaccustomed to them. As a result I fell once and broke my right arm. I was in bed another month because of that injury. After that, I set up a peddler's stand at the entrance to our house, in order to make a basic living.