The year was 1989. China witnessed a major pro-democratic student uprising. The Chinese leaders in a horrific show of force vented their fury and frustration on student dissidents and their pro-democracy supporters who had gathered in the Tiananmen Square. Several hundred people were killed and thousands wounded when the People’s Liberation Army moved on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. As the first armoured vehicles smashed their way through a ring of burning buses into Tiananmen Square itself, student occupiers began to fight. Beijing was in a state of siege.

The soldiers marched towards the students, shouting at will climbing over bodies and still shooting.

On June 5 in the unusual quiet after the massacre, with lanes empty, a small man in slacks and white shirt, carrying what looked like shopping bags posts himself before an approaching tank with a line of 17 tanks behind it. The tank swerves left, he to block it moves right. The tank swerves right and he moves left. This anonymous bystander then clambers up onto the vehicle of war and says something to the driver which is interpreted as: “Why are you here? My city is in chaos because of you.” As soon as the man descended from the tank, anxious onlookers pulled him to safety and the veil of anonymity closed on him once more. Some said he was called Wang Weilin a 19-year-old student, a few opined that he was a factory worker’s son and others said he looked like a provincial just arrived in the capital by train.

This anonymous person who risked his life in front of the juggernaut became an instant symbol of courage, a great defender of peace, an unknown soldier in the struggle for human rights.

286 words | 3 minutes
Readability: Grade 8 (13-14 year old children)
Based on Flesch–Kincaid readability scores

Filed under: biographies
Tags: #student, #square