(2008) Tankman Wang Welin Probably Met a Bad End – by Wu Renhua

See the video for yourself — here is a link to the PBS Frontline program The Tankman.

Not long ago the Voice of America journalist Shu Guofu invited me for a video and audio interview. The reason of the interview was that a University of California at Berkeley tankmananthropology professor has provided a new study result and he would like to get my take on the result of the study. This professor determined that at the scene of the tank Wang Weilin first fell into the hands of plainclothes police and then into the hands of martial law soldiers.

This anthropology professor is an expert on the body language (body movement) of human beings. For many years he pays close attention to the fate of Wang Weilin. He repeatedly studies videos of the scenes where Wang Weilin blocked the tank until when he was pushed away. There were more than one video but most of them are the same. They were taken by different foreign journalists at the same time, location and angle from the porch of Beijing Hotel.

The time when Wang Weilin blocked the tank was on June 5, 1989. The location was Dongchanganjie near Tiananmen Square. The videos showed that Wang Weilin blocked the convoy of more than ten tanks which were advancing from east to west on Dongchanganjie in the direction of Tiananmen Square. He moved from left to right several times blocking the convoy of tanks which attempted to move past him. Once he even boarded the first tank and talked to the soldiers in the tank. Then a young man on a bicycle came along and approached Wang Weilin and had a brief conversation with him. Immediately after that two other young men came to pull Wang Weilin away and then one on each side seized him, took him away from the scene and quickly to the side of the street. For many years many people believe that the three young men who pulled Wang Weilin away were kind-hearted people from the crowd and that once he reached the side of the road he quickly hid himself among the crowd at the side of the street and safely got away.

This anthropologist studied closely the body language of the three young people and Wang Weilin and concluded that the three young people were not ordinary citizens but were instead specially-trained plainclothesmen. Wang Weilin did not escape but was arrested on the spot and his fate was ominous. To this day nobody knows what happened to him.

Having been concerned about the fate of Wang Weilin for many years and to get ready to give my views, I once again repeatedly studied the documentary film. I put it on a big screen and varied the speed of the film so that I could study it in great detail, paying close attention to the body language of Wang Weilin and the three young men. If that professor of anthropology had not pointed it out, most people would not notice the body language. There wasn’t anything that looked like a conflict or overly bodily conflict. The two young men who later appeared very professionally seized Wang from his two sides.

If you look closely, you can see them twisting his arms and pressing on the vertebrae in his back (when I passed the entrance examination for Peking University I was a professional officer in the People’s Armed Police and so I have some knowledge of this type of moves that paralyze people.) Their moves prevented Wang Weilin who wanted to fight to the death from even making a move and could only submit passively to towards the side of the street. The young man who first approached Wang Weilin immediately gestured to the tank after Wang had been seized and been taken from the center of the road. The professor of anthropology believes that that was not a gesture that an ordinary person would make but it is instead a trained gesture filled with significance.

I watched the film closely several times and each time became more and more convinced that the anthropology professor’s expert judgment was correct. What is especially important to me is that the documentary film that the professor chose ran a dozen or more seconds longer than most of the frequently shown videos. This sequence continues until Wang Weilin was pushed up onto the sidewalk. I noticed that there were only two or three unidentified plainclothesmen there, that there was no crowd gathered at all and that Wang Weilin had nowhere to hide.

Even more important, a row of tanks had already stopped there, indicating that even if this was not a restricted area belonging to the martial law troops it was very close to it and very close to Tiananmen Square in the vicinity of Nanchizi where ordinary people were not allowed to approach. It was the same area where, from the early morning to the morning of June 4, a large number of Beijing citizens tried to go to Tiananmen to support the students but were repeatedly shot down by the soldiers of the martial law troops. The horrifying slaughter there was second only to the massacre on West Chang’an Avenue. My book The Bloody Clearing of Tiananmen Square includes many eyewitness accounts, providing a detailed documentary of the massacre at Nanchizi.

 

I had previously thought that the location where Wang Weilin blocked the tanks was nearer the Beijing Hotel and further away from Tiananmen. I believe there would have been a big crowd on the side of the street there and that once Wang Weilin reached the sidewalk there, he might have been able to quickly melt into the crowd and get away safely.

Using the video control, I paused and rewound the video many times. Finally I could clearly see the serial number on the side of the tank. That tank belonged to the First Division of the Tianjin Garrison Command.

If the anthropology professor’s study results above and my own analysis are correct, we can basically conclude that Wang Weilin’s fate is ominous. He might have died under the brutal force of the Martial law troops. All of the students and ordinary people arrested within and without the square before and after Tiananmen was cleared were badly beaten by the martial law troops using clubs and gun butts. Many were killed and even more were disabled for life.

Shanxi University student Gao Xu was arrested in Tiananmen Square and beaten until he was permanently disabled. He described his own experiences. The detainees were all locked up near the Tiananmen watchtower in either the Beijing Working People’s Cultural Palace or in Zhongshan Park. Both locales became execution grounds for martial law troops blowing off steam. The detainees didn’t get food or water for three days.

I have always thought that “Wang Weilin” was not the real name of that young man who blocked the tank alone and that the name was just a rumor. From the way he was dressed, he must have been a student but not a student from Beijing. When he was blocking the tank, he had carried a little sack with him. Only students from outside Beijing carried sacks for carrying toothpaste, toothbrush and other daily necessities along with ID cards like their student ID.

The professor’s study results and my own commentary may already be on the Voice of America website. There must be a video accompanying it. If you are interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the study you can go on the website to search for it.

June 2008

Online in Chinese on the Epoch Times website at http://www.epochtimes.com/gb/8/6/7/n2146536.htm


【大纪元6月7日讯】前不久,美国之音记者舒国符约我做一个摄影和录音相结合的采访,原因是美国伯克利大学的一个人类学教授提供了一份最新研究结果,希望我对他的研究结果作一评论。这位教授断定王维林在挡坦克的现场先是落入便衣警察手中,然后又落入戒严部队军人手中,凶多吉少。

这位人类学教授是研究人类肢体语言(肢体动作)的专家。多年来,他一直关注王维林的命运,反复研究有关王维林挡坦克,以及最终被人推走的那一段录像。有关的录像不止一份,但大同小异,是不同的外国记者在北京饭店的阳台上拍摄的,时间,地点,拍摄角度都是一样的。

王维林挡坦克的时间是一九八九年六月五日,地点在东长安街,靠近天安门广场。从录像上看,王维林挡住十多辆沿着东长安街由东往西驶向天安门广场的坦克。数次左右来回挡住试图绕过去的坦克车队,并一度爬上第一辆坦克,向坦克里的军人喊话。先有一名骑自行车的青年上来靠近王维林,与王维林简短交谈,紧接着又上来两名青年,拉走王维林,随即一左一右挟持王维林离开现场,快速到了路边。
多年来,不少人认为将王维林拉走的三个青年是好心的民众,而到了路旁的王维林趁机躲入路旁的人群中,安全地消失了。

这位人类学教授在仔细研究了三名青年和王维林的肢体语言后认为,这三位青年不是普通的民众,而是受过专业训练的便衣人员。王维林没有安全脱走,而是当场被捕了,并且凶多吉少,因此至今下落不明。

出于多年来对王维林的关心,也为了发表评论,我再次反复观看了相关的录像,使用的是大屏幕,而且可以随意控制播放速度,看的非常仔细,并十分注意三位青年和王维林的肢体语言。如果不是这位人类学教授的提示,一般人不会太注意肢体语言,当时也没有类似于冲突的,过激的肢体冲突。两位后来出现的青年非常专业地一左一右地挟持住王维林,仔细观察会发现扭胳膊和顶住后背关节处的动作(我考入北大时是武警的职业军官,多少了解这些使人瘫软的手段),原先以死抗争的王维林似乎想抵抗也使不出劲,只能被动地朝路旁走去。先出现的青年在王维林开始被挟持着离开道路中央的时候,立即对着坦克打手势,人类学教授认为,这不是普通人毫无章法的肢体动作,而是经过专业训练,富有确定含义的手势。

我细心观看多遍,越来越确信人类学教授的专业判断。对我而言,尤其重要的是,这位教授所选择的录像,比过去所常见的录像带多了十几秒时间,一直延续到王维林被推上人行道,我注意到那里只有零星一两个身份不明的便衣人员,根本就没有围观的人群,王维林无处可躲。更重要的是,那里已经停著一排排的坦克,说明那里即使不是戒严部队的警戒区,也是接近警戒区的地点,距离天安门广场非常近,就在南池子附近,根本不会允许民众靠近。六月四日凌晨至上午,就是在这个区域,大批民众试图进入天安门广场声援学生,一次次被戒严部队军人开枪击倒,这里的惨烈境况仅次于西长安街。我在<天安门血腥清场>一书中引用多位目击者的证词,对南池子的屠杀有具体的记录。

过去,我一直以为王维林挡坦克的地点接近北京饭店,距离天安门广场较远,相信那里的路旁会有许多民众,王维林到了路旁,可以迅速没入人群,安全离开。

我努力使用控制器,不断地倒带停带,终于看清了坦克侧面的编号,知道这些坦克属于天津警备区坦克1师。

如果上述人类学教授的研究结果和我的评论和判断无误,基本可以断定,王维林凶多吉少,可能已经在戒严部队军人的暴力下遇难。天安门广场清场前后在广场内外被捕的学生和民众都遭到军人的暴打,用木棒,用枪托,打死不少人,受伤致残的更多。山西的大学生高旭在广场被捕,被打伤致残,他叙述了具体的经历。被捕者都关押在天安门城楼左右的劳动人民文化宫和中山公园里,那里成了军人泄愤的大刑场。被捕者三天没有吃喝。

我自始至终认为“王维林”这个名字不是独身挡坦克的青年的真实姓名,人们都这样传说而已。从他的穿着打扮,应该是一个学生,但不是北京的学生,他在挡坦克的过程中,随身带着一个小包,只有外地的学生才会带着小包,放一些牙膏牙刷之类的日用品和学生证等证件。

人类学教授的研究结果和我的评论,可能已经放在美国之音的网址上,应该是带视频的,有心深入了解的朋友可以去搜寻一下。

点击收看王维林挡坦克和被拉离现场的最详尽录像

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About 高大伟 David Cowhig

Worked 25 years as a US State Department Foreign Service Officer including ten years at US Embassy Beijing and US Consulate General Chengdu and four years as a China Analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Before State I translated Japanese and Chinese scientific and technical books and articles into English freelance for six years. Before that I taught English at Tunghai University in Taiwan for three years. And before that I worked two summers on Norwegian farms, milking cows and feeding chickens.
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