Retired university professor Ding Zilin, whose 17-year-old son Jiang Jielan was killed during the armed crackdown on the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement, has campaigned tirelessly through her advocacy group, Tiananmen Mothers, for official recognition of the innocent lives that were lost. Every year, the group writes an open letter to China's parliament, calling for an overturning of the official verdict of "counterrevolutionary rebellion," for the publication of full details of casualties, and for the right to bury the remains of loved ones. This year, Ding has hit out at behind-the-scenes attempts by police to negotiate private compensation deals with the families, while avoiding any public statement on the bloodshed:
Once again, we are speaking out on behalf of the victims. This was ... an act of brutality, a bloody massacre, that was perpetrated on the people by the government in peacetime. Its nature cannot be covered up; neither can it be denied.
Any [Chinese] government, whether it is this government, the last government, or the next, owes a debt of blood to its citizens. This debt of blood must eventually be repaid, and we, the families of the victims, have been extremely restrained. We want this debt to be repaid and resolved through legal channels. That is the main meaning of our letter [to the National People's Congress] this year.
Every year, at the NPC, journalists ask the spokesperson [about the Tiananmen Square crackdown] and they read out the same mantra; that the government and Party have already made clear their appraisal of the political turmoil of that year. But they say one thing and do another. The police are secretly talking to the relatives about money; they don't talk about anything else. This year, we want to talk about this. Sure, we can talk about [compensation], but not like this.
Our three demands are very clear; this will not be resolved on a case-by-case basis. Yes, it can be done gradually, but not individually. And they can't approach each family in secret, either. They can approach any of us, but it has to happen in broad daylight, not sneakily and in the dark. Also, we won't negotiate with the police officers who are put in charge of our surveillance and house arrest. That's not acceptable.
So, we hope that the government will approach talks with sincerity, if it really wants to resolve the problem of June 4th.
Reported by Lin Ping for RFA's Mandarin service. Translated by Luisetta Mudie.