HONG KONG—As Beijing gears up for the annual session of China's National People's Congress (NPC), relatives of those killed during the 1989 crackdown on the Tiananmen pro-democracy movement have appealed once more to the country's leaders to re-assess the official verdict.
The outspoken leader of the Tiananmen Mothers, Ding Zilin, was under tight surveillance ahead of the NPC session, which begins March 5 in the Chinese capital. Calls made by an RFA reporter to her Beijing home were interrupted with loud interference after a few seconds.
Ding and around 100 other Tiananmen-related families have sent an open letter to the NPC, calling for a re-assessment of the official verdict of "counterrevolutionary rebellion" on the 1989 pro-democracy movement, and a rehabilitation of disgraced former Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang, who died in January.
"The June 4th Incident remains a blot on China’s history," said the letter, which was released by a New York-based human-rights group.
It called for a new official investigation into the events of June 1989, legal redress and compensation for the victims and their families, and inquiries by the state prosecutor to establish official accountability for June 4, Human Rights in China (HRIC) said in a statement on its Web site.
"The Communist Party ought to understand where we're coming from," Tiananmen relative Zhang Xielin told RFA's Mandarin service.
"We recognize the National People's Congress. We are using the existing system to communicate with them in a legal way. If they don't answer us, then I can only say it puts them in the wrong. They have no respect for the law," she said.
Ti Zhiyong, who lost a leg when People's Liberation Army troops fired on unarmed crowds in the streets around Tiananmen Square, told RFA: "It's been 16 years since 1989 now, and each year the burden is heavier than the last."
"Every year we have tried to make our wishes and requests clear to the government in a peaceful, reasonable and legal way. And every year we try in vain," he said.
The open letter said political reforms had regressed seriously since the fourth generation leadership under Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao took office, and that human rights and freedom of expression had also been severely curtailed.
"This was most recently exemplified by repressive measures the authorities took against Ding Zilin and others who sought to commemorate former Party Secretary Zhao Ziyang following his death on Jan. 17," the letter said.