GROUP SLAMS HOUSE ARREST OF TIANANMEN MOTHER


2004.06.01
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A group of Chinese political activists whose relatives were killed in the bloody crackdown of June 4th, 1989 has sharply criticized the house arrest of Tiananmen mother and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Ding Zilin, RFA�s Mandarin service reports.

�This is a letter to China�s leaders, [President] Hu Jintao, [Premier] Wen Jiabao and [Vice-premier] Wu Bangguo, because Ding Zilin and her husband Jiang Peikun, relatives of the victims of June 4th, have been confined to their apartment by Beijing national security police for no reason at all,� Zhang Xianling, a member of Ding�s Tiananmen Mothers group, told RFA.

The group sent an open letter to China�s leadership in the run-up to the 15th anniversary of the June 4 violence.

�They have confined them to their apartment without giving a reason or without saying under which law they are taking action,� said Zhang, who with Ding and one other woman was detained briefly in March. �I think it�s because the 15th anniversary is coming up, and they are afraid. I don�t know what they are afraid of. We have always been advocating peace, rationality, democracy, rule of law, and dialogues on an equal basis. What�s there to be afraid of?�

�This is ridiculous. The Chinese leadership has said so much through the media about rule of law and protecting the rights of citizens, and yet in the capital itself the national security police can detain someone just by saying so, with no legal basis, nor even any document,� Zhang said. �Are their orders higher than the Constitution? Is this the action of a country ruled by law?�

In recent years, the Tiananmen Mothers have issued open letters to the government demanding a formal dialogue with bereaved families, an independent inquiry into the crackdown, and a public accounting of all those who died in the crackdown.

Meanwhile, Ding herself has condemned the Communist Party�s continued refusal to address the official verdict on the crackdown, in which hundreds, perhaps thousands, are thought to have died after People�s Liberation Army troops ended six weeks of student-led protests that brought millions onto the streets of China�s capital.

Ding, 67, issued an unusually forthright statement calling on the Chinese people to dispute the official view that the crackdown was necessary to maintain stability and continue with economic reforms, and that the protests were a �counterrevolutionary rebellion.�

�We must now in equally clear and unequivocal terms tell these leaders: The massacre that took place in the Chinese capital in 1989 was a crime against the people, and a crime against humanity,� Ding said in the statement, carried on the Web site of the New York-based group Human Rights in China (HRIC).

Earlier, Ding described the way in which police had prevented her from engaging in any activities to commemorate her son, who died after being shot in the back.

�They said, �You and your husband can�t go out. You can use only the east door... to buy food from that supermarket a few hundred meters away. You can�t go anywhere else,�� Ding told RFA�s Mandarin service.

Ding said her husband, Jiang Peikun, was allowed to leave their home only to visit the doctor. Ding was forbidden to receive visitors other than family, or to send letters, or to take telephone calls or give media interviews, she said.

�I had two things to say. The first was to ask under what law they were taking this action against me. [The national security officer] did not reply to that, saying only that it was orders from above,� Ding said. �Regrettably, they took such action against me on the eve of the June 4th anniversary.�

�I am extremely opposed to this illegal action against myself and my husband,� she said. �There are five or six plainclothes security agents stationed at the bottom of my block of flats. Whenever I go out, they ask me where I am going, and I have to tell them, then they follow me wherever I go.�

Lu Wenhe, of the Independent Federation of Chinese Students and Scholars in the United States, told RFA that there was no legal basis for the authorities� actions. �Teachers Ding and Jiang are now around 70 years old. From a humanitarian point of view, it is very unfair to treat them like this,� Lu told RFA�s Mandarin service.

Authorities briefly detained Ding and two other members of her pressure group, the Tiananmen Mothers, in March while they visited her ancestral home in the eastern city of Wuxi.

Ding, Zhang Xianling, and Huang Jinping were detained after they received T-shirts printed with their group logo through the mail, ahead of the traditional Chinese grave-sweeping festival.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown and the death of ousted reformist Communist Party general secretary Hu Yaobang. Hu�s death on April 15, 1989 sparked public mourning that 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-June 20.

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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