Lu Jinghua was involved in the Tianniman Square protests of 1989 when she was 28. After ending up on a "Wanted" list for her activities, she eventually fled China, leaving her young daughter behind. Immigrating to the United States, her daughter was able to join her in 1994. She continues to advocate for freedom in China.
Amnesty International wrote this about Lu Jinghua:
"Her life changed forever in the spring of 1989. She was 28 years old at the time and used to make a living selling clothes at a small stall in China’s capital.
After seeing the students protesting at Tiananmen Square over several days, she decided to approach them to find out more about their campaign. A few days later she started bringing them water and, eventually, she joined them.
“I volunteered to be a broadcaster because of my voice. I would stand in Tiananmen Square and share the latest news over the loudspeakers. At night I would sleep in a tent at the square,” she said.
“I really enjoyed those days. I was happy. The movement changed my life.”
But things soon took a dark turn. She was at the square when the tanks rolled in.
“I heard bullets whizz past and people getting shot. One body fell by me, then another. I ran and ran to get out of the way. People were crying out for help, calling out for ambulances. Then another person would die.”
That was only the start of her nightmare.
After the crackdown Lü Jinghua was put on the “most wanted” list and her family was violently harassed by the authorities. She was left with no choice but to flee Beijing, leaving her young baby behind.
“It was an impossible decision. But I needed to save my life and that’s why I accepted I had to go.”
After a dangerous journey swimming up a river and taking a small boat, she reached Hong Kong and then flew to New York.
We will never forget what happened. It was the right thing to do. I was young, doing something. I still believe in this. I still fight for human rights in China.
Lu Jinghua on the 1989 democracy protests.
In 1993, she attempted to return to China to see her family: “When I got off the plane the authorities stopped me. I could see my mum holding my daughter on the other side of the gate, but the police wouldn’t let me talk to them.”
Lü’s daughter was eventually able to join her in the USA in December 1994 but Lü was never allowed back into China, not even to attend her parent’s funerals.
But Lü Jinghua has no regrets.
'We will never forget what happened. It was the right thing to do. I was young, doing something. I still believe in this. I still fight for human rights in China.'
Lu Jinghua pictured in New York in 2014.