The secretly recorded memoirs of Zhao Ziyang, the former head of the Communist Party who was ousted for sympathizing with the students during the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, have been released four years after his death. In tapes Zhao secretly recorded over 30 hours, onto Peking Opera and children’s music tapes during his 16 years under house arrest, he denounces the killing of protesters as a “tragedy,” and challenges the party’s subsequent rejection of democratic reforms. In them, he praised Western-style democracy and insisted that the activists were not attempting to overthrow the system. “On the night of June 3rd , while sitting in the courtyard with my family, I heard intense gunfire,” wrote Zhao, according to reports. “A tragedy to shock the world had not been averted.” He added: “I had said at the time that most people were only asking us to correct our flaws, not attempting to overthrow our political system.” Smuggled out of China in 2000 by three former high-ranking officials, the tapes will be published in English and Chinese this month as Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Zhao Ziyang in time for the 20th anniversary of the massacre.