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jueves, 5 de junio de 2008

Hace 19 años y dos meses...

… [You saw the Tank Man confront the tanks that day] … What exactly did you see?

I was watching it from the Beijing Hotel, where we had rented a room that looked onto the north side of the square. That morning, I remember, my husband said to me, "You'd better get out here." I rushed out onto the balcony, and I saw this lone person standing in front of this long column of tanks. … The young man -- … I couldn't see his face but I think he was young because of the way he moved, he was very fluid, he didn't move like an older person. … He tried to step in front of the tank. … The tank turned to go around him; the tank did not try to just run him over. I thought, "Wow!" So the tank is turning and then the young man jumps in front of the tank, and then the tank turns the other way, and the young man jumps down this side. And I thought, "What's going on?"

They did this a couple of times, and then the tank turned off its motor. … And then it seemed to me that all the tanks turned off their motors. It was really quiet; there was just no noise. And then the young man climbed up onto the tank and seemed to be talking to the person inside the tank. … After a while the young man jumps down and the tank turns on the motor and the young man blocks him again. … I started to cry because I had seen so much shooting and so many people dying that I was sure this man would get crushed. [And] I remember thinking, "I can't cry because I can't see; I want to watch this, but I'm getting really upset because I think he's going to die."

But he didn't. … I think it was two people from the sidelines ran to him and grabbed him -- not in a harsh way, almost in a protective way. … Then he seemed to melt into the crowd. Then the tanks, after a moment, just started up the engines again, and then they kept going down the Boulevard of Eternal Peace. That was the end. It was amazing. …

Who do you think the people [were] who pulled him away? … Do you think it was concerned citizens or do you think it was the PSB, the Public Security Bureau?

… I think that the people who took the Tank Man away -- I call him the "Tank Man" -- were concerned people. I've thought about this, and given the timing, I don't think the security forces had kicked in that fast. … I think that was still too early. That's one reason … the timing. The second reason is the body language. If you've ever seen security people manhandle a Chinese citizen, they're really brutal. … They twist your arm, they make you bend over, they punch you a few times, they kick you. … So to me, I think he was helped to the side of the road. He wasn't being arrested.

And that raises the intriguing possibility that he's still alive. Do you think there's any likelihood of that?

I think that he is. … I think the chances are pretty good … that he's in China because if he had left -- and many people have left China -- he might have felt free to talk. The fact that we have not heard from him since that amazing incident tells me he's still alive, he's still there. He has not been caught, and he's certainly not telling anybody …

Jan Wong
Author and former Toronto Globe and Mail Beijing correspondent.

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