‘Tiananmen Mothers’ Speak Out

Chinese government's move to pay off surviving family members is exposed.

Ding Zilin weeps as she recalls the death of her son, April 7, 2009.

In the months leading up to this year’s anniversary of China’s 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, government officials attempted to silence surviving family members with payments of “compensation,” a key member of a survivors’ group said.

Hundreds were believed killed when Chinese troops opened fire on demonstrators and other unarmed civilians in the Chinese capital on the night of June 3-4.  The massacre, now referred to by Chinese authorities as the “June 4 incident,” remains a politically sensitive topic for China’s government.

“In the morning of February 20, a member of the Beijing Public Security Bureau approached the family of one of the victims to express his ‘concern,’ stating that he was there as an individual and not as an official representative of any government office,” Ding Zilin, a leader of the Tiananmen Mothers group, said in an interview.

“He did not want to talk about truth or accountability [for the massacre]—only how much money would be needed to ‘resolve’ the June 4 issue,” she said.

Security officers later paid several other visits to the same family, said Ding, whose son was among pro-democracy demonstrators killed in the army crackdown.

“If the authorities merely want to settle June 4 matter with money, and to do it under the table, what kind of results will this produce?”

“The murder of our family members was an act by the government, and any proposal to address this tragedy with money is an insult to our loved ones and an offense to our group,” she said.

Essay published

Meanwhile, the Tiananmen Mothers group on Tuesday released an essay commemorating the victims of the June 4 crackdown.

The essay, titled “The Souls of Those Killed During June Fourth Shall not be Defiled. Their Families Shall not be Dishonored,” was signed by 127 members of the group, which requested the New York-based Human Rights in China (HRIC) to release it to the public.

“This year, we approach the 22nd anniversary of the Tiananmen democracy movement at a time when the fight for democracy, freedom, and human rights in North Africa and the Middle East is spreading like wildfire,” the essay reads.

“As relatives of those killed in the 1989 movement, our memories are still fresh, and our pain is unbearable when we look back at the tragic outcome of that unparalled disaster.”

“I plan to go to the Wan’an Cemetery on June 4 to mourn my child,” said Zhang Xianling, one of the essay’s signatories.

“Six or seven of the June 4 victims are buried in the same cemetery,” she said.

Warned by police

Beijing police warned one Tiananmen mother, Xu Jue, not to mourn her child this year, however.

“A police officer came to my home twice last week, telling me not to go to mourn my child,” Xu said in an interview on Tuesday.

“I asked why, and he said, ‘This was decided by higher-level officers.’  He also told me that police have recently been closely monitoring my activities.”

“The authorities are so frightened by the recent pro-democracy waves in the world,” Xu said.

“They just want to keep their grip on power. They are so petty-minded.”

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA’s Mandarin service. Translations by Ping Chen. Written in English by Richard Finney.


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