'The Surveillance is Still There: It's Just All High-Tech Now'

2015-05-22
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Members of the advocacy group Tiananmen Mothers gather during the Chinese New Year in Beijing, Feb. 2, 2015.
Members of the advocacy group Tiananmen Mothers gather during the Chinese New Year in Beijing, Feb. 2, 2015.
Photo courtesy of Tiananmen Mothers

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 China's ruling Communist Party to reappraise the student-led movement and the ensuing crackdown by the People's Liberation Army (PLA). Two weeks ahead of the 26th anniversary, Ding and group spokeswoman You Weijie spoke to RFA's Mandarin Service about their experience of these anniversaries:

Ding Zilin:

We had the fifth anniversary; then the 10th; then the 15th. Each time, all the families of the victims would shut their doors and carry out their memorial ceremony in silence, without impinging on other people.

But last year, not only were we unable to do this, everyone was forced to leave their homes. On the 25th anniversary, we were unable to carry out our collective ceremony for the souls of the departed, for our relatives who died.

Last year, this was a matter of great regret to us.

If it was physical pain, I could cope with it, but there is no way to plug this gaping spiritual loss.

I am constantly thinking about it. I can understand why we are persecuted for seeking a reappraisal [of the 1989 pro-democracy movement and the bloodshed that ended it], but what I can't understand is why lawyer Pu Zhiqiang and ... journalist Gao Yu have become the targets of persecution simply for holding a discussion forum [about 1989].

Why is a public intellectual like Pu Zhiqiang about to face trial? Why did Gao Yu receive such a harsh jail sentence in connection with June 4?

It's nothing to do with multiples of five. It's to do with [the government's] own needs.

I don't know what directives they are obeying, because I don't have any direct connection with officialdom.

You Weijie:

So far the police have been round to touch base with us, but I have been relatively free to move around lately, because I haven't received any journalists into my home for interviews.

On the face of it, it seems as if [security measures] will be slightly more relaxed this year, but that's not to say that all our activities won't be under surveillance by them.

The surveillance is still there; it's just all high-tech now.

We families of the victims, we mothers and fathers who lost our sons and daughters, we are all old now.

We hope that the day will come quickly ... that the government will face up to the massacre that took place on June 4, 1989, because I don't think silence is acceptable.

It has been 26 years since this went down in Chinese history. I hope they can resolve it as soon as possible.

From my own point of view, I want to see this injustice against my child righted in a just and fair manner while I am still alive.

Tell the truth. Refuse to forget. Demand justice. Call for conscience. These four phrases have been the motto of the Tiananmen Mothers all along.

Reported by Wen Yuqing for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

CH. 1: MANDARIN | CANTONESE

CH. 2: VIETNAMESE | BURMESE | KOREAN

CH. 3: KHMER | LAO | UYGHUR

CH. 4: TIBETAN

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