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Testimony of Zhang Shusen, mother of Chen Laishun

January 31, 1999

Chen Laishun, male, born March 2, 1966, killed at age 23; before his death, he was an undergraduate student in the journalism department at the China People's University, class of 1989; before dawn on June 4, 1989, at about 2:00 a.m., he was struck by a bullet and killed on the rooftop of a low building on the western side of the Great Hall of the People; now his ashes are buried at Jinshan Cemetery in the western suburbs (South 2 District, Row 3, No. 4).

Testimony of Zhang Shusen, mother of Chen Laishun:

At about 6:00 p.m. on June 3, 1989, Chen Laishun and his elder sister, Chen Xiuying, left the house together and separated at the Chongwen subway. At that time, the situation was already very tense in Beijing, and his sister, fearing an accident, urged Laishun not to go out. Laishun said he had to return to school to hand in his thesis and take graduation pictures, and he didn't go home with his sister. At that time, Laishun was carrying a dark camel-colored backpack, and inside the backpack were things like the draft of his thesis, a camera, etc. Because the traffic was blocked, there were no buses, so Chen Laishun went on foot. He made a detour in the vicinity of the National Art Museum and ran into a junior high school classmate, and the two of them agreed to go to the classmate's house and chat for a while.

According to what the classmate later said, at about 11:00 p.m., they heard the classmate's neighbor say that the People's Liberation Army had opened fire and shot people outside. Chen Laishun and his classmate didn't believe this was true. As a photojournalism major, Chen Laishun shouldered his backpack and, together with his classmate, left the house and went to the western side of the Great Hall of the People at Tiananmen Square just as the martial law troops were firing. The students and townsfolk gathered in the vicinity of the Great Hall rushed to hide themselves. Chen Laishun and his classmate were wedged so tightly in the crowd that they couldn't move, so they climbed onto the roofs of two nearby low buildings (now there is a large plate factory there; at that time, these buildings were behind the place where the plate factory is now) to have a look. The martial law troops saw there were people on top of the buildings and opened fire. Chen Laishun couldn't hide from the martial law troops' bullets, which exploded into the left side of his head. People took him to the Beijing City Emergency Center, but he couldn't be helped and he died.

I have four children, but only Laishun was a college student. We scrimped and pinched to enable him to study, and never thought that a catastrophe would befall us. After Laishun was shot, no one (organizations, leaders) came to express concern or console us. On the contrary, on days like "June Fourth," Qing Ming (Grave Sweeping Day), July 15 in the lunar calendar, October 1 in the lunar calendar, we are watched even more closely, and our personal freedom is restricted.

These past ten years, we have been bereft of the son of our hearts, have suffered the anguish of missing a loved one, and have been gravely wronged. It follows that illnesses like coronary heart disease, diabetes, cataracts, stomach problems and other ailments have plagued me incessantly. I am Laishun's mother. Whenever it comes time to offer sacrifices to our ancestors, I am especially disinclined to eat or drink, and my tears keep me company on those endless days and nights when I long for my son.

Zhang Shusen



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