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Louisa Lim

Editor's Note: There are descriptions of rape and other forms of sexual abuse in this story.

All that remains is a pair of yellow gates, perched on the crest of a hill dotted with gum trees and cypresses, overlooking the blue sea. The natural beauty of the site stands in stark contrast to the central role it played at the heart of a sex abuse scandal dating back decades.

As China prepares to mark the 25th anniversary of its brutal repression of protests around Tiananmen Square, its leaders have presided over an unprecedented pre-anniversary crackdown. Rights groups say at least 50 people have been detained, put under house arrest or disappeared.

Hour after hour passed as Chen Guang stood, gun trembling in his hands, behind the doors of Beijing's Great Hall of the people, waiting for the order to clear Tiananmen Square of its student protesters.

It was 1989, and Chen was a 17-year-old soldier from a small town whose life was changed by his role in the bloody crackdown. His account offers a sharply different perspective of the events of June 3 and 4, 1989, when martial law troops fought their way into the center of Beijing, killing hundreds of people, mainly on approach roads into the square.

They peered at the photo blankly, leaning to take in the details.

"Is it from South Korea?" asked a student studying for a doctorate in marketing, with no flicker of recognition.

"Is it Kosovo?" a young astronomy major guessed.

The elderly woman carefully handed over the tissue-thin white paper slip. The flimsy invoice was her son's death notice. The words hurriedly scrawled on it in blue ink — "shot outside and died" — were proof to her of the crimes of the state.

Zhang Xianling's son, Wang Nan, was just 19 years old when he was killed by a single bullet to the head. It was fired by martial law troops sent to clear protesters from Tiananmen Square in the early hours of June 4, 1989.

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