Tight security as dissidents mark death of Zhao Ziyang
Beijing stepped up security measures and scrutiny on dissidents over the weekend as mourners paid tribute yesterday to deposed reformer Zhao Ziyang .
On the fifth anniversary of Zhao's death, a score of dissidents were barred from going to his former home in Fuqiang hutong in central Beijing. They said they had been told a few days ago that visiting the home for memorial purposes was strictly forbidden this year.
Ding Zilin - a founder of Tiananmen Mothers, a group of parents who lost their children during the 1989 crackdown - said a dozen plain-clothes officers from the Public Security Bureau and officers from the National Security Bureau had started around-the-clock surveillance on her and her husband since Saturday.
'There are two groups of them. One group is now stationed downstairs in my building, the other group is guarding the entrance of my residential compound,' the retired professor said.
A regular mourner on the anniversary of Zhao's death, Ding said she had been told once over the phone and once in person by authorities that paying her tribute was not allowed this year.
'Maybe they don't want his place to be crammed with mourners on the fifth anniversary,' she said. 'They can stop us from setting foot out of our homes, and they can certainly make sure that none of us from Tiananmen Mothers will show up at Zhao's place today, but they can't stop us from paying our respects to him from our hearts.'
Ding, who lost her 17-year-old son in the crackdown, said she had sent a letter and a book to Zhao's family as gifts to compensate for her absence this year.
Zhao, a supporter of bold economic reforms who was purged for opposing the military crackdown on student demonstrators in June 1989, was widely respected although he was put under house arrest until his death in 2005.
Zhang Xianling, another of the Tiananmen Mothers, said her home had been guarded by two plain-clothes officers since Friday night.
'We are not allowed to go out today, but I heard that a lot of people still managed to pay their tributes at Zhao's place,' she said.
Other dissidents who received similar warnings included Bao Tong , Zhao's top aide, and Chen Ziming , an intellectual labelled a 'black hand', or sinister conspirator, of the Tiananmen movement by the government.
Despite Beijing's attempts to rein in public condolences for the former party reformer during the run-up to his death anniversary, dissenting voices still managed to get out, specifically in Hong Kong.
Ten days ago, a book by a close ally of Zhao was published in the city. In the book, Du Daozheng said the former party leader attributed the obstruction of nascent political reform to his successors, saying it put China onto a path of corruption.