HONG KONG—Chinese mourners gathered Thursday in Xian to mark the death of democracy activist Lin Mu, a former aide to disgraced late Communist Party chief Hu Yaobang, at a brief memorial during which police removed flowers sent by overseas pro-democracy groups.
Lin Mu was Hu Yaobang's right-hand man. He...was cruelly punished for his steadfast support for Hu's reform program.
Around 200 mourners gathered under tight police surveillance to mourn Lin, who died at his home in the northern city of Xian on Oct. 15, at the age of 79. The funeral, at the Sanzhao crematorium and lasted for about 20 minutes, was attended by pro-democracy activists from all over China.
But police confiscated wreaths and floral tributes sent by overseas pro-democracy groups wanting to pay their respects to a veteran activist for democratic reform, his grandson told RFA’s Mandarin service.
“Everyone knows what’s going on here,” Zhang Xiaoman told RFA reporter Ding Xiao. “But we just wanted to give our grandfather a peaceful send-off, with nothing untoward happening that my grandfather wouldn’t have wanted to see.”
Zhang said the family were angered by the move but decided against confronting the authorities over the removal of the wreaths.
“There are many people who came today from all over China, and from closer to home. We really care about these people and we wouldn’t want any confrontations, or people getting detained. My grandfather used to get very upset whenever anything like that happened, so we just let it go,” he said.
There were no speeches made, according to Guizhou-based pro-democracy activist and university lecturer Chen Xi, who attended.
“Nobody spoke. Not his family, not government officials. There were people from all over China laying wreaths, and most of them touched on issues of human rights and democracy,” Chen said. ”So the family took the decision to have no one speak, no officials either.”
He said the memorial began with a period of silence for the departed. It was followed by three bows to show respect to the deceased, and then the viewing of the casket.
“But even in such a short ceremony, people were being hurried along in a nasty way by plainclothes officers who told them to pick up their wreaths and gather their belongings even before it was over,” he said.
Not everyone was allowed to attend who wanted to. A British university lecturer was prevented from entering, and prominent civil rights lawyer Zhang Jiankang was coerced into leaving Xian ahead of the funeral, sources said.
Lin Mu was given a eulogy, however, by Bao Tong, former top aide to disgraced late Party chief Zhao Ziyang, who released his essay to RFA’s Mandarin service from house arrest in Beijing.
“Lin Mu was Hu Yaobang’s right-hand man,” Bao wrote. “He...was cruelly punished for his steadfast support for Hu’s reform program. He served two jail terms and was expelled twice from the Party, and served nine years of reform through labor.”
“In 1989, Lin supported, and took part in, the student-led pro-democracy movement, which led to his being expelled from the Party for the third time. He continued to do his utmost to speak out for human rights,” Bao said.
Bao also recalled Lin’s support for a 1995 open letter signed by top intellectuals calling for a reappraisal of the official verdict on the June 4 crackdown.
“It didn’t have the desired effect and was callously wiped out by the authorities. But the force of justice is a fearless thing, and this was just one more expression of the iron will of the people, battered but not broken,” he wrote.
Mentioning another top Party ideologue and would-be reformer, He Jiadong, who also died recently, Bao wrote:
“Both Lin and He understood that the Chinese people are not slaves and should enjoy the rights of citizens. They both sacrificed themselves unreservedly for this very ordinary, yet very lofty ideal.”
He added: “Their fellows in that struggle are every Chinese person who doesn’t want to lose his freedom.”
Original reporting in Mandarin by Ding Xiao. RFA Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Translated and written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.