'My Father Is a Hero'

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china-qi-ji-crop.jpg Qi Ji, the daughter of Chinese dissident Qi Zhiyong, speaks to RFA in San Francisco, June 2013.

Qi Ji is the 15-year-old daughter of Beijing-based dissident and rights activist Qi Zhiyong, who was maimed when a tank ran over his legs on the night of June 3, 1989, as the People's Liberation Army (PLA) put an end to weeks of peaceful protest on Tiananmen Square. Having a parent who is linked to China's pro-democracy movement, or to a political event deemed "sensitive" by the ruling Chinese Communist Party, could be seen as a disadvantage. State security police continue to harass the victims of the crackdown and their families. But Qi Ji—who was born nine years after the event, and now lives in the United States—told RFA's Mandarin Service that she doesn't see it that way:

The PLA should protect the people. How could they turn their guns on their own citizens? They should turn them on our enemies. We are not the enemy. We are the citizens of China.

There was one time when my father was lying on the bed reading a book, and I was sitting on the cot watching TV. Suddenly, a bunch of people came bursting in, and hit my father over the head with a beer bottle. I was scared to death. One of them dragged my father off the bed onto the floor, to beat him up, right in front of me. That man told me I shouldn't scream, and that if I did, he'd beat me to death. They were the police. My father had several broken ribs from that attack.

He was just fighting for freedom; to stop the country carrying on the way it was going, and to stop the Communist Party from getting more and more corrupt.

That's why he was opposing the Party. I think he is totally awesome. That's why I think my father is a hero. He only has one thought in his head; to struggle to have the verdict on June 4 overturned. And he has kept fighting for this all along.

'Incredibly strong'

My mother has a lot of compassion for my father. My mother says that my father is incredibly strong, and that's why she fell in love with him.

Veterans of the 1989 democracy movement said they see little sign of any change in the official view that the bloody military crackdown on the student-led movement was necessary to put an end to "political turmoil."

The number of people killed when People's Liberation Army (PLA) tanks and troops entered Beijing on the night of June 3-4, 1989 remains a mystery.

Beijing authorities once put the death toll at "nearly 300," but the central government has never issued an official toll or list of names, stepping up security in recent years to prevent public displays of mourning by the relatives of victims.

Reported by CK for RFA's Mandarin service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.


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