Saturday, June 21, 2008

NYT Archive 1989: Death Toll Reassessed

More than two weeks after the massacre, New York Times on June 21, 1989, reassessed the death toll of the crackdown:
The true number of deaths will probably never be known, and it is possible that thousands of people were killed without leaving evidence behind. But based on the evidence that is now available, it seems plausible that about a dozen soldiers and policemen were killed, along with 400 to 800 civilians.
Some of the early estimates of thousands of deaths, including the American estimate, were based on reports that the Chinese Red Cross had counted 2,600 deaths. But the Chinese Red Cross has denied saying any such thing, and this seems to have been an offshoot of two other rumors that variously used the figure of 2,600 to describe the number of students who were missing and the number of students who were killed.
The death toll estimation was based on numbers compiled from hospitals nearest Tiananmen Square, detailed in the article itself.

In the same issue, NYT reported the arrest of Liu Gang:
The television announced that Mr. Liu was arrested in the city of Baoding, 90 miles southwest of Beijing, where he was hiding in a park while awaiting a train to a more distant city.
''Local policemen found him, and were suspicious, so they took him to the police station,'' the television announcer said. ''Liu Gang was in shabby clothes and used the assumed name of Zhang Shun. He said he was a laborer, but the policemen saw that he had no thick callouses on his hands and that he had pale skin and that he didn't have the air of a laborer. So the police questioned him further, and he confessed.''
Like most of the other students who have been arrested, Mr. Liu appeared calm and composed during his interrogation. There were no obvious signs that he had been beaten, as many of the workers seem to have been by the time they are shown on television.
Several days earlier, NYT had also reported that Ma Shaofang had turned himself in.

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