Tiananmen Mothers Attend Funeral For Elderly Father of Teen Massacre Victim


2017-12-12
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china-funeral-121217.jpg Wang Fandi's funeral is shown at the Babaoshan Cemetery in Beijing, Dec. 12, 2017.
Photo courtesy of Tiananmen Mothers

The Tiananmen Mothers victims group on Tuesday mourned the passing of another elderly parent of a young person killed by the People's Liberation Army in 1989, as the now-dwindling group continues to call for justice.

Wang Fandi, a retired university professor, was cremated at the Babaoshan crematorium in a funeral ceremony on Tuesday morning local time after succumbing to a prolonged illness, his wife Zhang Xianling told RFA.

Wang never found out whether his 19-year-old son Wang Nan died instantly after being shot on a street to the south of Tiananmen Square during the June 4, 1989 crackdown, or whether soldiers prevented an ambulance from taking him for emergency treatment, as one contemporary account suggests.

Zhang, a founder member of the Tiananmen Mothers, said her husband had been a staunch supporter of her activism for more than 20 years.

"Naturally, he wanted to see some kind of redress, but he is gone now, and there has been no resolution," she said. "This is a matter of great regret."

"It was mostly I who did the Tiananmen Mothers work, but he always supported me, and told me to take care of my health, as it these things always take a very long time," she said. "He told me to put my own health first."

Zhang said Wang hadn't been totally pessimistic, in spite of their petitioning the ruling Chinese Communist Party for nearly three decades for compensation, clarification, and an apology to victims'
families, to no avail.

"He said that our country was constantly changing and evolving, and he always held out the hope that things would improve," she said. "He said we should evaluate the situation and pick the right time to try to change things."

Targeted for harassment

Wang's passing comes after the sudden death in 2015 of Jiang Peikun, husband of Tiananmen Mothers founder and former spokeswoman Ding Zilin.

Ding, 80, was a retired associate professor of philosophy at Beijing's prestigious Renmin University when the couple's 17-year-old son Jiang Jielan died in the crackdown.

The group is frequently targeted for surveillance, harassment, and suppression as they have pressed for a reappraisal of the 1989 protests, the pursuit of those responsible, and compensation for the victims' families.

Group spokeswoman You Weijie told RFA on Tuesday that Wang Fandi had been a staunch supporter.

"He put most of his energy into his career, but he also supported Zhang and our group's attempts to pursue justice and to uphold our dignity," You said.

Some of the Tiananmen Mothers were allowed by the authorities to place a floral tribute to Wang at the cremation ceremony without interference, she said.

"I think one of the main reasons for this was that a lot of Wang Fandi's students were there. They all wanted to attend the funeral," You said.

Mourning forbidden

Beijing forbids any show of public mourning for those who died on the night of June 3-4, while high-ranking leaders, often pressed by foreign journalists, have repeated their view that the party's verdict of "political turmoil" is accurate, and that the debate is closed.

There is no definitive figure for the number of people who died when People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops entered the capital in tanks, raking bystanders and buildings alike with automatic weapons fire, although estimates range from the hundreds to the thousands.

The crackdown brought down late premier Zhao Ziyang, whose attitude to the students was judged to be too liberal, and sparked several years of arrests and compulsory political studies sessions the length and breadth of China.

Reported by Gao Feng for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Hai Nan for the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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