'People's Patience is Limited'

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A protester wears a T-shirt supporting the Tiananmen Mothers in Hong Kong, June 10, 2012.
A protester wears a T-shirt supporting the Tiananmen Mothers in Hong Kong, June 10, 2012.
EyePress News

On the 24th anniversary of Beijing's 1989 military crackdown on the Tiananmen Square student-led protests, China's state security police have once more placed the relatives of those who died in the massacre under close surveillance, imprisoning them in their own homes, and cutting off their contact with the outside world. RFA's Mandarin and Cantonese services spoke briefly to two of the "Tiananmen Mothers" on the eve of the sensitive political anniversary, which for them is still a painful time of unresolved grief:

"For the past few days I haven't been able to meet with the other relatives of victims," said Ding Zilin, a retired Beijing University professor whose 17-year-old son Jiang Jielan was killed during the bloodshed.

Ding, who has campaigned tirelessly through her advocacy group, Tiananmen Mothers, for official recognition of the innocent lives that were lost, said she was currently being watched by police stationed outside her apartment building.

"The ones who are watching me are downstairs, vehicles, people, are all there," she said.

"Right now, I just hope that [President] Xi Jinping, whether he is in China or overseas, when he makes his speeches, will wake up from his dreamlike state and face reality."

"There are so many real and actual problems that we face, and all he does is stand there and talk about dreams. That won't solve the problems," she said.

"Dreams are always illusory, even when they have metaphorical meaning, or deal with natural phenomena. He should get real, and quit talking about dreams so much."

"If he carries on talking about dreams for the next 10 years, the Chinese people won't prosper. Not just the Tiananmen Mothers, but people at other levels of society, as well. People's patience is limited."

Fellow Tiananmen Mothers activist Zhang Xianling said she had hoped to hold a personal memorial on South Chang'an Avenue in Beijing, where her son died, but had been prevented from leaving her home by a guard of more than 10 state security police.

"There are 10 plainclothes police there, including the local branch deputy chief and people from the political and legal affairs committee [of the ruling Chinese Communist Party]," Zhang said in a brief telephone interview.

"They are watching me very closely...quite a few other [activists] are being closely watched, too," she said.

She said she had negotiated a private visit to the public cemetery, however.

"I asked them not to interfere [with my visit there] and they agreed, but I don't know whether or not they'll actually keep their promise when it comes down to it," Zhang said.

On June 4, 1989, after weeks of protests in Tiananmen Square, Chinese troops backed by tanks crushed the demonstrations. Rights groups and witnesses said they expected several hundred to several thousand people were killed in the crackdown, but the government has never released an official casualty count.

Reported by Xin Yu for RFA's Mandarin service, and by Hai Nan for the Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

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