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Three activists reflect on Tiananmen massacre 25 years later

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Jonathan Chan, Kenneth Lam, and Liane Lee were just a few of the activists and students who took part in the Tiananmen protests 25 years ago today. All three shared their thoughts on the events with Time, discussing everything from the mood in Beijing before June 4 to how they thought they might not make it out alive.

Chan, Lam, and Lee were members of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, which believed in reforms and raised money to assist the protestors. They headed to Beijing in May 1989 to distribute the funds, and on the night of June 3, were warned by journalists against heading to Tiananmen Square. Instead of staying in their hotel, the trio destroyed sensitive documents and a fax machine, and Lee called her pastor, asking him to pray for her.

All three remember the bloody bodies they saw, the sounds of gunfire, and the terror in the air. "Every year I have to remind myself that I have a job to do," Lee told Time. "I was rescued by the people of Tiananmen Square and they have an expectation of me." Today, younger generations of mainland Chinese are largely unaware of the events, and Lam is fighting to keep the history from being buried. "I once had this belief that the world could be better," Lam said. "But June 4 is an incident that can cause the collapse of belief. We are here today to make sure we don't lose the truth too."

Read the entire riveting interview at Time.