Tiananmen Square crackdown

Rita Fan refuses to apologise over June 4 comments

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 October, 2011, 12:00am


Ding Zilin, an advocate for parents who lost their children in the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989, yesterday denounced Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai's refusal to apologise over her description of the event as 'unfortunate'.

Ding, founder of the Tiananmen Mothers whose teenage son was killed in the tragedy, earlier demanded that Fan make a public apology and challenged her to an open discussion.

But Fan remained defiant yesterday, insisting that she said only what she believed was right. A member of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, Fan made the remarks at a seminar held at Chinese University where she was asked by students for her stance on June 4.

She described the event as unfortunate and said she was not sure what really happened, adding that she had no authority to comment on whether the June 4 movement should be vindicated.

In a statement that Ding wrote last week, she accused Fan of 'having no regard for facts and talking irresponsibly'. She also questioned if Fan was trying to please Beijing because she wanted to become Hong Kong's next chief executive - a post Fan has expressed interest in.

In response, Fan said: 'I understand the pain Ms Ding has over the loss of her son, and I respect her views. But what I said all these years is what I believe. So I do respect her, but I maintain my own stance.'

Fan said she only got to know the news about the crackdown from watching CNN as she was in Hawaii when it happened in June 1989. She later also saw reports by non-American news agencies that showed people singing as they left Tiananmen Square. 'So I really can't prove what actually happened in Tiananmen [Square] ... I can only say I'm unclear what happened at that time,' she said. 'I don't think my statement was offensive nor did I say Ms Ding was wrong in any sense.'

Ding told the South China Morning Post: 'If she is so stubborn, if she is so determined to be a stooge [of Beijing], that is her choice. If her own son was killed during the June 4 massacre, would she have said that?

'She is a politician, she is not a victim. She might be full of hope for her political career. But this just shows that she is extremely stubborn and that she is a politician who has no sense of conscience or humanity.'

Ding and other parents have campaigned to have the 1989 massacre reassessed. They want an independent probe into the bloodbath, compensation and the prosecution of those found to be responsible.

The Tiananmen protests were led by students and academics urging political reform and democracy. There was widespread international condemnation of the government's use of force against the protesters.

Fan also said yesterday that she would not rule out taking part in the chief executive election next year but maintained her comments on June 4 had nothing to do with the election.

A poll commissioned by the Post showed she is the second most popular choice for the next chief executive.