“The Souls of Those Killed during June Fourth Shall Not Be Defiled; Their Families Shall Not Be Dishonored”: Essay by the Tiananmen Mothers
  • Tue, 05/31/2011 - 04:00

On the 22nd Anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre:
The Souls of those Killed during June Fourth Shall Not Be Defiled; Their Families Shall Not Be Dishonored

The Tiananmen Mothers

May 31, 2011

[Translation by Human Rights in China]

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. 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 unparalleled disaster.

We have always firmly believed that everything that happened during the June Fourth crackdown is engraved in the people’s hearts; the Chinese people, especially Beijingers, cannot forget the events of June Fourth. They cannot forget the men and women who were shot and crushed to death by the Chinese army troops. The June Fourth Massacre will not be forgotten, even though it has been downplayed and blocked among the people in China. It shall forever exist in people’s hearts. It has been indelibly etched into history.

On that frightful night of June 3, 1989, the Chinese army troops, protected by the darkness of night and following the way opened for them by tanks and armored vehicles, moved toward Tiananmen Square from all directions, strafing and chasing people to kill them as they advanced. Wherever they went, students and civilians suffered heavy casualties. When the student demonstrators withdrew orderly and peacefully from Tiananmen Square in the early morning of June 4, the army tanks pursued them from behind and crushed them, killing and seriously injuring more than a dozen students right there. Even on June 6, the government had not stopped their military action. That day, on Fuxingmenwai Street alone, three people were killed and three were critically injured; the youngest of the injured was only 13 years old. In an instant, the sky fell and the earth sank in the whole city of Beijing. Wailing and sobbing were heard everywhere. In an instant, young faces and handsome bodies, one after another, were turned to dust and vanished from the land where they had lived.

So far, we have spent 22 years and have documented 203 victims of June Fourth. There are still many victims we have not found, or whose relatives of whom we have no information.

Among the 203 known victims, some were beaten to death when protesting against the army’s use of violence against civilians; some were shot while rescuing the wounded or carrying the dead; some were chased by martial law troops into residential alleys and streets and killed; some were shot right in their own homes by stray bullets of the martial law troops; and some were shot and killed while taking photographs at the scene. Our repeated investigation and verification show that not a single one of the victims committed any violent act. They were all peaceful demonstrators and citizens.

We have the names, genders, ages, work units, and occupations of most of these victims. We have the home addresses, school names, and grade levels of all the students. They died tragically and majestically. We cannot help but sink into despair every time we think of them.

Let us who still live — your parents, your husbands and wives, your brothers and sisters, your sons and daughters — weep for you and mourn your passing! Let those who are middle-aged, but especially those who are young, stand in silent tribute and pay you their respect!

An old saying goes, “There is no avoiding the sins committed by the heavens, nor can man escape from paying for the sins he commits.” The June Fourth massacre was by no means a casual act, but an act with the highest level decision makers and direct executors. Some have since died, others still live. The sins they committed cannot escape scrutiny under law. As creditors of this huge historic debt, we all understand the unshakeable law: “It is right and proper to repay a debt owed.”

We have been steadfast in our difficult struggle over the past twenty some-odd years to restore the damaged reputations of the dead and to comfort the souls that have yet to find peace. We have written many times to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, asking them to give an earnest and responsible account of the killing of the innocent victims during June Fourth. We also urged the Standing Committee to change their attitude of indifference to the will of the people and their willful ignorance of the pleas of the families of the dead, and to open a direct and sincere dialogue about the victims of June Fourth with their families. But we have not received a reply to any of our requests.

In late February 2011, on the eve of the annual “Two Congresses” — the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) — a victim’s relatives who are among the Tiananmen Mothers group were contacted by the public security department in their district for so-called private communication and exchange of opinions. Soon after, in early April, the public security personnel had another talk with that family. The visitors did not speak of making the truth public, carrying out judicial investigations, or providing an explanation for the case of each victim. Instead, they only raised the question of how much to pay, emphasizing that this was meant for that individual case and not for the families in the group as a whole.

The Tiananmen Mothers have repeatedly appealed to the government over the past 16 years for dialogue, yet government authorities have ignored us. This year, the silence was finally broken. This should have been welcome. But what in fact does this belated response mean? If the authorities merely want to settle the June Fourth matter with money and to do it under the table, then what kind of results will this produce?

In 1995, we began making three demands to resolve the June Fourth issue: truth, compensation, and accountability. In 2006, in accordance with the circumstances at that time, we added a supplemental resolution: because resolving the June Fourth issue impartially requires a certain process, we can adopt the principle of tackling the simpler problems first. The issues with serious differences in opinion that cannot be readily agreed upon—for example, the true nature of the events of June Fourth—can be temporarily set aside. Instead, we can first settle the issues involving the basic rights and interests of the victims. There are six issues, including removing all surveillance and personal restrictions imposed upon the June Fourth victims and their families; allowing the families of the dead to mourn their loved ones without interference; and the relevant government departments’ providing pure humanitarian assistance to the victims experiencing hardships. This supplemental resolution has a basic principle and a bottom line. The bottom line is this: the souls of those killed during June Fourth shall not be defiled; their families shall not be dishonored. We hereby reiterate today: all matters can be discussed except these two.

Our door to dialogue with the government has remained open at all times. For any endeavor, it is always the start that is most difficult. As a show of good faith, the government should dispatch or appoint an official body to be responsible for the dialogue, rather than using the public security or state security personnel who monitor and follow us every day to “talk” with us. This is improper and pointless. So as to reflect the inclusive nature of the dialogue, we hope that, rather than individual discussions, the government will seek out many victims’ families—not one, not two, but three, four, or even a dialogue team organized by the victims’ families—for talks. We hope it will not be private communications, but an open dialogue, forthright and aboveboard, with all issues on the table, with no facts concealed or differences covered up, and one that strives to fulfill our responsibilities to the dead and to history. We harbor no illusions that the issues of June Fourth can be resolved in a single step. If there are discussions, then they should be real discussions, to resolve issues point by point, so as to ultimately arrive at a unanimous or basically unanimous conclusion.

Since the start of this year, demonstrations and protests calling for freedom and democracy have erupted in countries across the Middle East and North Africa. The Chinese government has referred to these popular protest movements categorically as “turmoil”; at no point has it mentioned the calls for freedom and democracy. Why? The answer is fear. It is afraid that the situation in the Middle East and North Africa will spread to mainland China, and worried that it will give rise to events similar to the 1989 Democracy Movement. The authorities have therefore tightened control on civil society and intensified repression, resulting in a serious deterioration of human rights in China; in particular, the situation since February of this year has been the worst since June Fourth. It has been the harshest period since June 4, 1989. Silence has reigned across the country. To our surprise, it was against this grim backdrop that public security agencies have initiated private, individual conversations and dialogues with some of the families of the June Fourth victims. How can this not be strange?

Signers:

丁子霖 Ding Zilin 张先玲 Zhang Xianling 周淑庄Zhou Shuzhuang
李雪文 Li Xuewen 徐珏 Xu Yu 尹敏 Yin Min
杜东旭 Du Dongxu 宋秀玲 Song Xiuling 于清 Yu Qing
郭丽英 Guo Liying 蒋培坤 Jiang Peikun 王范地 Wang Fandi
袁可志 Yuan Kezhi 赵廷杰 Zhao Tingjie 吴定富 Wu Dingfu
钱普泰 Qian Putai 孙承康 Sun Chengkang 尤维洁 You Weijie
黄金平 Huang Jinping 贺田凤 He Tianfeng 孟淑英 Meng Shuying
袁淑敏 Yuan Shumin 刘梅花 Liu Meihua 谢京花 Xie Jinghua
马雪琴 Ma Xueqin 邝瑞荣 Kuang Ruirong 张艳秋 Zhang Yanqiu
张树森 Zhang Shusen 杨大榕 Yang Darong 刘秀臣 Liu Xiuchen
沈桂芳 Shen Guifang 谢京荣 Xie Jingrong 孙宁 Sun Ning
王文华 Wang Wenhua 金贞玉 Jin Zhenyu 要福荣 Yao Furong
孟淑珍 Meng Shuzhen 田淑玲 Tian Shuling 邵秋风 Shao Qiufeng
王桂荣 Wang Guirong 谭汉凤 Tan Hanfeng 孙恒尧 Sun Hengyao
陈梅 Chen Mei 周燕 Zhou Yan 李桂英 Li Guiying
徐宝艳 Xu Baoyan 狄孟奇 Di Mengqi 杨银山 Yang Yinshan
管卫东 Guan Weidong 高婕 Gao Jie 索秀女 Suo Xiun&uuml
刘淑琴 Liu Shuqin 王培靖 Wang Peijing 王双兰 Wang Shuanglan
张振霞 Zhang Zhenxia 祝枝弟 Zhu Zhidi 刘天媛 Liu Tianyuan
潘木治 Pan Muzhi 黄定英 Huang Dingying 何瑞田 He Ruitian
程淑珍 Cheng Shuzhen 轧伟林 Zha Weilin 郝义传 Hao Yichuan
萧昌宜 Xiao Changyi 任金宝 Ren Jinbao 田维炎 Tian Weiyan
杨志玉 Yang Zhiyu 齐国香 Qi Guoxiang 李显远 Li Xianyuan
张彩凤 Zhang Caifeng 王玉芹 Wang Yuqin 韩淑香 Han Shuxiang
曹长先 Cao Changxian 方政 Fang Zheng 齐志勇 Qi Zhiyong
冯友祥 Feng Youxiang 何兴才 He Xingcai 刘仁安 Liu Renan
熊辉 Xiong Hui 韩国刚 Han Guogang 石峰 Shi Feng
庞梅清 Pang Meiqing 黄宁 Huang Ning 王伯冬 Wang Bodong
张志强 Zhang Zhiqiang 赵金锁 Zhao Jinsuo 孔维真 Sun Weizhen
刘保东 Liu Baodong 陆玉宝 Lu Yubao 陆马生 Lu Masheng
齐志英 Qi Zhiying 方桂珍 Fang Guizhen 肖书兰 Xiao Shulan
葛桂荣 Ge Guirong 郑秀村 Zheng Xiucun 王惠蓉 Wang Huirong
邢承礼 Xing Chengli 桂德兰 Gui Delan 王运启 Wang Yunqi
黄雪芬 Huang Xuefen 王琳 Wang Lin 刘 乾 Liu Qian
朱镜蓉 Zhu Jingrong 金亚喜 Jin Yaxi 周国林 Zhou Guolin
杨子明 Yang Ziming 王争强 Wang Zhengqiang 吴立虹 Wu Lihong
宁书平 Ning Shuping 郭达显 Guo Daxian 曹云兰 Cao Yunlan
隋立松 Sui Lisong 王广明 Wang Guangming 冯淑兰 Feng Shulan
穆怀兰 Mu Huailan 付媛媛 Fu Yuanyuan 孙淑芳 Sun Shufang
刘建兰 Liu Jianlan 王连 Wang Lian 李春山 Li Chunshan
蒋艳琴 Jiang Yanqin 何凤亭 He Fengting 谭淑琴 Tan Shuqin
肖宗友 Xiao Zongyou 乔秀兰 Qiao Xiulan 张桂荣 Zhang Guirong
雷勇 Lei Yong   (127 names)

In accordance with suggestions by our friends, we’re also including the following names of our fellow signers from previous years who have passed away so as to respect their wishes:

吴学汉 Wu Xuehan 苏冰娴 Su Bingxian 姚瑞生 Yao Ruisheng
杨世鈺 Yang Shiyu 袁长录 Yuan Changlu 周淑珍 Zhou Shuzhen
王国先 Wang Guoxian 包玉田 Bao Yutian 林景培 Lin Jingpei
寇玉生 Kou Yusheng 孟金秀 Meng Jinxiu 张俊生 Zhang Junsheng
吴守琴 Wu Shouqin 周治刚 Zhou Zhigang 孙秀芝 Sun Xiuzhi
罗让 Luo Rang 严光汉 Yan Guanghan 李贞英 Li Zhenying
邝涤清 Kuang Diqing 段宏炳 Duan Hongbing 刘春林 Liu Chunlin
张耀祖 Zhang Yaozu 李淑娟 Li Shujuan (23 people)

 

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