Fang Zheng sent a human rights message to China today, by way of a waltz. Fang, 42, was back on his feet — and dancing, no less — for the first time today since a tank sheared off his legs in the uprising at Tiananmen Square 20 years ago.
Then a 22-year-old university senior and accomplished sprinter with Olympic ambitions, Fang joined the demonstrations for democracy in 1989. He and his fellow students were agitating against the Communist government, hoping to win democratic rights. But on June 4, 1989, the Chinese regime issued a crackdown, and Fang was one of the casualties.
“In the blink of an eye, the tank was approaching the sidewalk and closing in on me. It seemed as if the barrel of its gun was inches from my face. I could not dodge it in time. I threw myself to the ground and began to roll. But it was too late. My upper body fell between two treads of the tank, but both my legs were run over,” he said in a testimony before a human rights commission. “The treads rolled over my legs and my pants, and I was dragged for a distance. I used all my strength to break free and to roll to the side of the road.”
Watch footage of the ceremony at which Fang danced with his wife (dance comes at end of clip):