Tiananmen Mothers | Human Rights in China
In an open letter to members of China’s legislature and political advisory body, the Tiananmen Mothers urge them to break the 25-year government silence on the June 4, 1989 military crackdown on the Democracy Movement that year, and begin discussion on a resolution.
The letter calls on the deputies of the National People’s Congress and members of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference—who will convene their annual meetings beginning March 5—to “make up for the mistakes of the past” as a way to mark the upcoming 25th anniversary of the brutal killings.
“Truth, compensation, accountability—these three things are our consistent appeal. They, together with our morality and conscience, will be maintained until the day they are realized,” says the group of 128 family members of June Fourth victims.
The group was established by Ding Zilin, a former Philosophy professor. Her 17 year old son Jiang Jielian was killed on his way to Tiananmen Square on June 3, 1989.
Below is the full text of the open letter of the Tiananmen Mothers group sent on February 28, this year:
As You Remain Silent on the June Fourth Issue, Your Morals and Conscience are Draining Away from You
Respected Deputies of the National People’s Congress:
Respected Members of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference:
The annual session of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative
Conference is, once again, about to begin. It just so happens that this year is the 25th anniversary of the June Fourth massacre. We, the Tiananmen Mothers, as relatives of the victims of the June Fourth tragedy, will gather up our strength to wait and see what the NPC deputies and CPPCC members of this session will accomplish—whether they can make up for the mistakes of the past and decisively raise the June Fourth issue for discussion in the meetings. Whether a conclusion can be reached is not important. A discussion among many would be progress.
In the past 24 years, we, the Tiananmen Mothers, have braved great hardships in our arduous quest, but we are not discouraged and have not given up. We have already found 202 June Fourth victims [who were killed or wounded]. Yet with the passage of time, 35 fellow sufferers in our group have themselves passed away. Up to the end, they still could not forget or let go of their departed loved ones who were harmed.
The departed are forever gone, the living persevere!
Recently, we, the Tiananmen Mothers, fanned out on three trips to visit and interview fellow sufferers, particularly those far away. The interviewers came back deeply touched. One of the interviewed individuals wrote these heartfelt words:
“These last twenty-five years, missing and longing for my son every day could not bring him back. But at the very least, we should be given the truth, the facts, and a clear admission of wrongdoing! Yet up until now, there hasn’t been any hope of that. Could it be that we are forced to leave this world in despair?
This despair has already tormented us for twenty-five years! There is only one truth. In such a big Beijing, thousands upon thousands of people saw it all with their own eyes! People all over the world also understood everything! After twenty-five years, those who still are not willing to and don’t dare admit the truth are the most cowardly and most foolish!”
Thousands upon thousands of words are said in this sentence: “After twenty-five years, at the very least, we should be given the truth, the facts, and a clear admission of wrongdoing!” Here, we specifically quote these words so that the NPC deputies and the CPPCC members can hear clearly what this June fourth victim’s family member has to say!
During last year’s Two Congresses, we raised this question regarding how to resolve the June Fourth issue: “This is our wish—may it not turn into despair again.” Later on, during the June Fourth period, after repeated consideration, we put forth our response this way: “Hope is fading and despair is drawing near.” And today? We still don’t see any hope. Those who still are not willing to and don’t dare admit the truth are truly the most cowardly and most foolish!
Twenty years ago, Jiang Zemin did not talk about June Fourth, as if June Fourth did not happen; ten years ago, Hu Jintao did not talk about June Fourth, also as if June Fourth did not happen; today, the new leaders also do not talk about June Fourth, as if June Fourth has moved farther and farther away, whose shadow can no longer be seen.
These long twenty-five years, as you remain silent on the June Fourth issue, what is draining away from you? Your morals, your conscience, and the legitimacy of your rule.
In this world, if someone says you have no morals, no conscience, you can say they are talking nonsense. If two people say the same, you can still say it’s not true. If three or four people say the same, your heart starts to beat faster. If many people say the same, or if they don’t even bother saying anything, but rush out of the country like tides, it shows that no one believes you, and you are left with cowardice and foolishness. You say our economy has grown to become the second largest in the world, and in a few more years, the largest, but you are still left with only cowardice and foolishness.
And we? Even though we have lost a lot, a lot in this quarter century—we have lost loved ones, freedom, happiness, and the life and rights of normal people—we have preserved our morality, our conscience, the things that are most precious in life.
Truth, compensation, accountability—these three things are our consistent appeal. They, together with our morality and conscience, will be maintained until the day they are realized.
On earth, whether you believe it or not, you must always follow morality and conscience. You sing against the melody, you walk backwards. How much longer can you sing? How much farther can you walk? This is still a question.
Respected deputies of the National People’s Congress, respected members of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, and respected leaders of our country, please think about this, and think again!
The letter was signed by 128 members of the Group and they also add 35 signature of passed away member with the notice: “In accordance with suggestions by our fellow victims, we have decided to also include the names of our fellow signers from previous years who have since passed away, so as to honor their last wishes”.