Interview with One of the 'Three Gentlemen at Tiananmen'
CALGARY – No Chinese person who lived through the times of the Tiananmen Square massacre of June 4, 1989 can forget the Student's Democratic Movement and the profound impact it had in determining China's direction for the future. During that time three young men from Liuyang, Hunan Province—Lu Decheng, Yu Zhijian, and Yu Dongyue—attracted the attention of the entire world by their actions. On May 23, 1989, the three men were arrested after throwing ink and eggs at the official portrait of Mao Zedong, which hangs in Tiananmen Square. The three young men were sentenced to 16 years, 20 years, and life in prison respectively in name of counterrevolutionary sabotage. Since that time they have been referred to as the “Three Gentlemen at Tiananmen.”
It has been 17 years since the June 4th incident. Yu Dongyue was recently “released upon completion of his sentence” after going through unimaginable mental and physical tortures and suffering from schizophrenia. Zhijian had already been released by this time.
Lu Decheng also experienced many difficulties and hardships during his imprisonment. Rescue efforts on his behalf were made by both the people of China and abroad including the United States and Canada. After eliminating the obstacles caused by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Lu arrived safely in Canada from Thailand in April, 2006. He is now living in Calgary, Canada. The Epoch Times interviewed Lu Decheng in Calgary.
Lu Decheng said that the intent of their “egg-washing” of the official portrait of Mao in Tiananmen Square was to demonstrate their frustration with the policies and actions of the CCP. By the time the government authorities had cordoned off Tiananmen Square in reaction to the peaceful student movement on May 19, 1989, the three young men had lost all faith in the CCP.
Lu Decheng says that he does not regret his action of protesting against the CCP by “egg-washing” the official portrait of Mao 17 years ago. He said that he would continue walking the path he has chosen. He hopes that people from around the world will continue to pay attention to the unknown heroes who are still fighting for democracy in China. Lu believes that these unknown heroes represent the backbone and the hope for the future of China.
The following content was arranged according to the interview.
'Egg-washing' the Sketch of Mao was Aimed at CCP's Tyranny
In May 1989, Yu Zhijian, Yu Dongyue, and I decided to go to Beijing after participating in a parade in Changsha City, Hunan Province. Our intention was to express our opinions more directly.
On May 19 the authorities decided to cordon Tiananmen Square off from the rest of Beijing.. The CCP's attitude toward the Student Democratic Movement and the protests in Tiananmen Square changed dramatically at this point in time. The students understood that further negotiations with the CCP would be fruitless. We wrote a letter to express our thoughts to the Autonomous Student Association, the association formed by students during the student movement in 1989. But they did not respond. Maybe they were too conservative at that time.
On May 22, as the three of us sat on the stairs in front of the Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square we decided to throw ink and eggs at the official portrait of Mao. Our intent was to demonstrate our complete denial of the authority of the CCP at its' root – Mao.
Our actions were not aimed personally at Mao. Our actions were aimed at the CCP system. The official portrait of Mao was a symbol representing the CCP and its despotic rule of China.
After June 4, the CCP arranged attorneys for each of us during our trials. The CCP paid 100 Yuan (US$ 12) in legal fees to each attorney. To the outside world it was made to appear that the CCP was respecting the rule of law.
I was sentenced to 16 years in prison, Yu Zhijian and Yu Dongyue were sentenced to 20 years and life in prison in name of counterrevolutionary sabotage.
The great numbers of people arrested after the student protests in Tiananmen Square was beyond the capacity of the Beijing prison system. The CCP arranged to send all political prisoners from Tiananmen Square back to prisons in their home provinces.
The three of us were sent to the Huna Province No.2 Prison. Our struggle against the persecution of political prisoners at this prison resulted in serious fights breaking out involving both prisoners and the authorities at the prison. This disruption of normal prison activities shocked the Labor Camp Bureau and Justice Bureau of Hunan Province. Subsequently, the three of us were separated. Yu Dongyue was relocated Hunan No.1 Prison, Yu Zhijian was sent to No.3 Prison. I remained in the No.2 Prison.
There were many students in the prisons. Some of them were guilty only of attending the parades.
The CCP Demolishes the Prisoners of Conscience both Physically and Mentally
In Chinese prisons, political prisoners and prisoners of conscience are treated with utmost cruelty. A warden once pointed at us and said, “You are lower than a robber.” His words fully exposed the evil nature of the CCP. As we all know, in ancient China, the warden was just a job. But now in communist China, it's like these wardens are all being controlled by evil spirits. They are more evil than criminals, because criminals usually still value loyalty and fellowship. But those wardens there have completely lost their humanity. Yu Dongyue is an example. As early as 1992, Yu was already schizoid after long term physical and mental torture. According to Chinese law, Yu should have been allowed a medical parole. But they would not release him. More than ten years had passed before the government finally released Yu Dongyue under strong condemnation and pressure from the international world. “You see the scars behind my ears and by my eyes? It's been over 10 years, but these scars, which are several inches long, are still there. I may seem to talk about it in an easy way, but you'll never really understand the cruelty and horror I experienced unless you suffered the same as I did.”
Abuse and Torture are Common in Chinese Labor Camps
In prisons and labor camps in China, it is very common that the prisoners are abused and tortured. The CCP calls it “a reformation of the mind from the deepest part of your soul.” The governors want to reform people into evil creatures like themselves so that people would lose the ability to distinguish right and wrong. Their logic is: if there are many kind people in society, the CCP's tricks would be seen through easily, and the people would not allow it to do more evil deeds. The persecution of Falun Gong practitioners also started because of this logic: when there are many people of good conscience in the country, the CCP gets nervous and frightened. That's why the governors are so paranoid and try to reform people's minds: they feel safe only when people are all as bad as themselves. As a result, abuse and torture are widely used in China. When journalists would go to a Chinese prison for an interview, the wardens would renovate the place. The prisoners kept there would all be warned and threatened, so they would be too afraid of more severe persecution to tell the truth. So the UN investigation teams and foreign journalists have hardly ever been able to see a true picture based on their visits to Chinese prisons.
I'd Rather Die than Go Back to the CCP's Prison
On August 20, 2004 I fled China from the Yunnan Province with the help of my friends from China and abroad. It took me two months to reach Thailand through Burma. On my way there I got help and protection from many human rights activists. The route we took was the longest but safest one. Before arriving in Thailand, we had to walk across a vast area of virgin forest with the aid of a compass. I felt like I was a desperate fugitive. Originally, while staying in Thailand, I planned to change my name and do our jobs there until I had a chance to go back to China. But unfortunately, the CCP's secret agents found me. The Chinese government then forced the Thai government to imprison me. Finally, I was able to escape to Canada a year and a half later. Under intense pressure from the CCP, the Thai government once wanted to extradite me. But I would rather die than go back to the CCP's prison.
During my imprisonment in China, I always felt that I was surrounded by hostility, which kept me restless even in my sleep. I never felt safe during that time. When I first stepped on the ground of Thailand, I felt relaxed. But that feeling vanished in less than two months because the CCP made the Thai police detain me. I knew real freedom and ease only after I came to Canada. I could finally sleep soundly. Here I'd like to express my thanks to the “Friends of Chinese Refugees” in Calgary, Canada, to the governments of Canada, the U.S., Holland and Germany for their efforts in rescuing me, and to human rights activists and religious groups who helped me, and also to the world's media that truthfully reported about me. It's particularly worth mentioning that many Christians have been praying for me though they never knew me in person. When I heard about their kind deeds not long ago, I was really moved. Now in China more and more people are starting to realize what we did was right.
I do not regret defacing Mao's portrait as a protest against autocracy 17 years ago, and I will go on along the path I have chosen. I often say, “Autocracy shall fail, and democracy shall win.” The CCP has committed great crimes against the Chinese people. If the CCP is not punished as they deserve, there will be no such thing as justice!