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Testimony of Yuan Kezhi, Yuan Li's father

January 31, 1999

Yuan Li, male, born July 7, 1960, graduated with a Master's Degree from Northern University of Transportation. He worked in a research department for automation at the Ministry of Electrical Engineering. Before his death he had been accepted as a graduate student at Stevens Institute of Technology in the United States. He had received his passport and was planning to leave for the United States before September.

He was shot by martial law troops at about 11:45 p.m. on June 3, 1989, in Muxudi. Just after midnight, early on June 4, he was taken to the Naval Hospital. Because he had no ID with him, he was listed as Unidentified Corpse No.2. There was a bruise on his left hand beneath the thumb; the bullet had entered his throat and exited at the base of the spine. His ashes are buried at Wanan Public Cemetery in the western suburbs.

Testimony of Yuan Kezhi, Yuan Li's father:

At the time of the 1989 student movement, all of Beijing turned out to support the students. Because Yuan Li was working, he didn't participate intensively in the demonstrations, but he followed the development of the movement closely. His parents had had experiences of political movements, and due to their own lingering fears they exhorted him not to get involved. But he answered, "Every man has a share of the responsibility for his country," and he added worriedly, "What will happen if the student movement fails?" For two weeks before the events of June 4, he went almost every evening to People's University to hear the news over the students' loudspeaker system.

On May 20, Yuan Li had a long talk with Li XX, a student from the Science and Engineering University who was taking part in the hunger strike. Yuan Li begged the student to speak to the student leaders at Tiananmen and persuade them to call an end to the hunger strike. He felt that the masses were already aroused, so that there was no longer any need for them to continue actions which would damage their health. When Yuan Li heard Chai Ling's announcement calling off the strike, he was very excited. On June 2, Yuan Li heard a rumor in the office that the martial law forces at Liuliqiao had been blocked by citizens. A colleague said he thought that the troops might open fire, but Yuan Li thought that it was impossible, that Chinese soldiers would never fire on the people. He believed without any hesitation the old propaganda slogan that "The army is to the people as fish are to water."

On the morning of June 3, Yuan Li went to Qinghua University to look for a graduate student he knew. The student had just gone to Tiananmen, and Yuan Li went to look for him. The students had blocked a commandeered army vehicle full of firearms, ammunition, helmets and other military goods near Fushi Street. A few people were still demonstrating, carrying around helmets stuck on bayonets. Yuan Li felt that the students' action in stopping the commandeering and plundering of this truck was one of the best things they had done, and he was very proud of them. Just then, troops who were stationed in the Great Hall of the People tried to attack the people to retake the stolen weapons. Yuan Li and the Qinghua student tried to stop the soldiers, entreating them to go back to the Great Hall of the People. They were there until 8:00pm and only then returned to their homes to shower and eat dinner.

At 11:00 p.m. on the same night, Yuan Li heard gunfire from the direction of the Military Museum and Muxudi. He took his bike to set out for Muxudi, but his mother pulled at his bike, saying, "It's dangerous! People are being killed, don't go!" Yuan Li answered, "If even you old people can go out on the streets to hear the news, then how could an unmarried young man like me not dare to go?" He was wearing a vest, jeans and a kerchief around his neck, which he said he would use to cover his mouth and nose if he encountered tear-gas. He determinedly got on his bike and gave a powerful kick to set it in motion. Who would have thought that would be our farewell? All night his mother and I couldn't close our eyes. By the early morning of June 4 he had not returned, and we knew something had happened. We asked our neighbors to help us contact Yuan Li's cousin and her husband, and we all went to Muxudi to look for him. We went to the Public Security Bureau for the western part of the city, as well as to the local police station, to make inquiries. Many people suggested we go to look in the hospitals. For half a month after June 4, Yuan Li's friends and relatives, including his cousin and her husband, and Yuan Li's older brother and older sister, who had rushed home from Changsha, searched in Beijing's 44 hospitals without success, without finding even a corpse. Had he been arrested by the martial law troops? We were anxious, uncertain, terrified...The days passed in this painful manner, until, on June 19, as we were looking through the hospitals a second time, we found his body in the morgue of the Naval Hospital. He had not been carrying any identifying documents, so that was why it had been impossible for them to contact any relatives. In that period of time, Yuan Li's body had been mistakenly claimed by the Beijing Municipal Spring Factory, but was returned two days later. Fortunately, an old worker at the Naval Hospital had found a unique way to preserve corpses, so it had been well-preserved and had not yet begun to decompose.

In the half-month that we searched for Yuan Li, of all the hospitals we went to, Fuxing Hospital had the most unidentified corpses - it had become a mountain of bodies. We ourselves saw over 400 - if you count those which must have been recognized and taken away, it must have been even more! As news of Yuan Li's disappearance spread, many friends and relatives came to our home to express concern and sympathy. Three young men who didn't know one another came, to relate the cruel events they had seen from the night of June 3 to the early morning of June 4, at Muxudi Bridge, at the base of a high-rise building there: at about 11:00 p.m. on June 3, the martial law troops sent an infantry division from west to east over Muxudi Bridge. An order was given and all the soldiers lay down, except for one who, kneeling like an old woman, used his assault rifle to spray the street with bullets. Many people threw themselves down at the sound. After the soldiers left, the people used three-wheeled carts or their own bicycles to transport the dead and wounded to nearby hospitals. Barely half an hour later, the first armored division swept over Muxudi Bridge from west to east, and people saw one youth raise his left arm and cry, "I am a Qinghua University graduate student..." These words were barely out when that young man lay down in darkness...

From looking over Yuan Li's body we found that there was a bruise under his left thumb; the bullet had entered his throat and exited at the base of his spine. Blood had stained his vest and jeans (we kept the blood-covered clothes and still have them.) We concluded that his thumb had been injured by a rifle-butt. The bullet had been fired upwards from a military vehicle and had hit Yuan Li descending; the path of the bullet was almost directly up and down. Yuan Li's eyes and mouth were wide open, so that he looked alive. It was only just before his cremation that we were able to close his eyes and mouth.

On June 24, 1989, we held a memorial service for Yuan Li in Farewell Chamber No. 3 at Babaoshan, in which 300 people participated. Just before the service, we saw with our own eyes men carrying two bulging black plastic bags, each the size of a human being, into the crematorium; even from a distance, we all noticed an unpleasant odor. It seems there is no way to find out anything definitive about the fate of June Fourth victims like those two. So many souls of those unjustly killed will receive no earthly justice except to be remembered each year on June Fourth, a day of national shame, by those they left behind.

On July 29, 1989, we had a burial ceremony in the western suburbs, at Wanan Cemetery, where Yuan Li's ashes were interred. The epitaph on Yuan Li's tablet was as follows: We mourn for our son who died before he reached adulthood. He departed the world too suddenly. Our family's star of hope bid us farewell and fell to earth. The will of Heaven is unfair: it called away a youth full of promise and ambition. Our son left behind him two old and withered parents. Our son was born July 7 and ascended to Heaven on June 3. The shortness of his life was most unfortunate. Our hearts are broken entirely and our gladness and laughter are finished forever. In grief we erect this tablet.

Ten years later, Yuan Li's death has left a wound in the hearts of his family which cannot be healed. The murderers hope that the tragedy of June Fourth will fade from public memory, but this will only bury more deeply in the hearts of the people their rage against the killers and their painful memories of the innocent victims. Since the unexpected blow occurred, the spiritual shock has made Yuan Li's mother's high blood pressure even worse, and her heart disease has recently become acute rather than chronic, especially since she had a fainting spell at Yuan Li's farewell ceremony. In the years since 1989, Yuan Li's mother has been in the hospital once a year for high blood pressure and heart disease. In addition, each year on the Qing Ming Festival, when people hold memorial ceremonies for June 4 victims buried at Wanan Cemetery, we are under surveillance by the military and plainclothes police, and this kind of psychological trauma doubles the effect of the wounds caused by our losses. We have lost hope of finding peace in our old age.

Yuan Kezhi
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