CHINA DETAINS TIANANMEN MOTHERS AHEAD OF FESTIVAL, ANNIVERSARIES


2004.03.30
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The Chinese authorities have detained two mothers whose sons were killed by People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops during the bloody crackdown on demonstrators in and around Tiananmen Square nearly 15 years ago, RFA's Mandarin service reports.

Ding Zilin, who founded the pressure group Tiananmen Mothers after her 17-year-old son was shot in the back on June 4, 1989, was visiting her ancestral home in the eastern city of Wuxi when law enforcement officers arrived, her husband Jiang Peikun told RFA correspondent Fang Yuan.

"Ding Zilin was taken away from our ancestral home in Wuxi yesterday morning at about 11:30. Our domestic helper had just finished cooking lunch, and said can't she have her lunch first. They said no. They didn't inform any relatives. As she left, Ding Zilin said to the helper, I'm afraid I will not be able to see you anymore," Jiang said.

"In the afternoon about five officers came with a detention warrant for evidence, relating to the accusation of 'harming state security.' They said the detention could be as short as seven days and as long as one month," Jiang said.

Meanwhile, Beijing police detained Zhang Xianling, whose teenage son was killed in the massacre, said Jiang, who had earlier spoken to Zhang's husband. A third woman, Huang Jinping, whose journalist husband was killed in the massacre, was also detained in Beijing Sunday, he said.

Police arrived at Zhang and Huang's homes shortly after the women each received a package containing T-shirts printed with the words "1989-2004 Tiananmen Mothers" on them, Jiang said. The packages were confiscated.

Calls for a reassessment of the official verdict of "counterrevolutionary rebellion" have mounted in the run-up to the 15th anniversary of the crackdown, in which hundreds, perhaps thousands of people are thought to have been killed following weeks of pro-democracy protests that drew millions onto the streets of the capital.

Ding, Huang, and Zhang's detentions came shortly ahead of the traditional Chinese grave-sweeping festival, Qing Ming, in which families visit ancestral graves and remember the dead. The festival has been used by Tiananmen Mothers, a group of around 124 relatives, in the past.

"They will be stepping up a crackdown in the run-up to the 15th anniversary of Tiananmen," Szeto Wah, of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of the Patriotic and Democratic Movement in China, told RFA.

"Dr. Jiang Yanyong has already written a letter asking them to overturn the verdict on June 4th. So many people are calling for this. Their intention is to violently suppress this demand," Szeto said.

Tiananmen victim Qi Zhiyong, who lost a leg as a result of the Tiananmen massacre, said he was stunned by the news of Ding's detention.

"Fifteen years after they sent troops, helicopters, and tanks in to kill people, all this has been hidden in people's minds, and their own government won't even admit it, won't even face up to what it did. How can they take this sort of action?" he said.

Veteran dissident Ren Wanding, who served a jail term following the Democracy Wall movement of 1979, said the recent political turmoil in Taiwan had sent a strong message to Beijing of the dangers of social unrest. "I think...partly it's because of what has been happening in Taiwan. It is extremely important to the Chinese government to maintain order with its borders," Ren said.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre and the death of ousted reformist Communist Party general secretary Hu Yaobang, whose death on April 15, 1989 sparked public mourning which erupted into the Tiananmen Square protests.

During the 10th anniversary of June 4th, Jiang and Ding were prevented from leaving the People's University campus, where they lived, for 50 days, from May 1 to June 20, he said.

In recent years, the Tiananmen Mothers have issued open letters to the government demanding a formal dialogue with bereaved families, the establishment of an independent inquiry into the crackdown and the publication of an official list of those killed.

Premier Wen Jiabao declined to address the issue at a March 14 news conference following the country's annual parliamentary sessions, when asked about the calls for a reassessment. �At the end of the 1980s and in the beginning of the 1990s, China faced a serious political disturbance... At that critical moment, what hung in the balance was the destiny of our party and country," Wen said.#####

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