We’ve suffered 27 years of state terror, Chinese mothers of Tiananmen victims say ahead of anniversary
Families have endured constant harassment and intimidation by security services for pursuing justice for loved ones, letter says
Mothers of some of those killed in China’s crackdown on the 1989 pro-democracy movement say they have lived through 27 years of state-led “terror and suffocation” and vow to continue pushing for the truth ahead of this weekend’s anniversary of the events.
An open letter signed by 131 members of the Tiananmen Mothers and published by the overseas advocacy group Human Rights in China said victims’ families had endured constant harassment and intimidation by security services for pursuing justice for their loved ones.
“For us, family members of the victims’ families, it has been 27 years of [state] terror and suffocation,” the letter said. “For 27 years, the police have been the ones who have dealt with us,” it said, listing a string of measures including electronic snooping and surveillance of family members, fabricated accusations and intimidation. “All these actions undoubtedly desecrate the souls of those who perished in [the crackdown] and insult the honour of the living,” the letter said.
Yet, the women said they were convinced their campaign would eventually produce a full and objective reckoning of the events.
The letter condemns the government for apathy, accusing Beijing of ignoring pleas by family members and wiping out public memory of the movement and the bloody crackdown on the night of June 3-4, 1989.
The government insists it was necessary to send in troops and tanks to quell what it has labelled a violent uprising.
The letter was partially prompted by tightening security following the death of Jiang Peikun, husband of Ding Zilin, one of the most prominent Tiananmen mothers, said Yin Min, a fellow member.
They have been forbidden to visit Ding since April 22, Yin said.
Ding, whose 17-year-old son Jiang Jielian died in the crackdown, declined to be interviewed when reached by phone on Wednesday. As the face of the group, she has been subject to the most severe restrictions.
“It feels that there’s no end in sight. We are all at ages where death can happen any day, and we’d like to see the truth revealed and justice upheld while we are still alive,” said Yin, whose 19-year-old son, Ye Weihang, was also killed.
We believe we have the obligation and the right to tell the public how we have lived those 27 years and to urge the government to take action,” Yin said.
Another Tiananmen mother, Zhang Xianling, said she remained optimistic. “Isn’t there a report that someone has lived to 105? I think I will live to the day when justice comes,” said Zhang, who lost her 19-year-old son Xu Jue.
Each year’s anniversary brings a tightening of restrictive measures, with family members confined to their homes or forced to leave Beijing. Ignored by the state-controlled media, they are forbidden from publicly commemorating the deaths of their loved ones.
Even private events linked to the crackdown are banned, and overseas rights groups have reported that police hauled away at least three pro-democracy activists who attended a commemorative dinner in a Beijing home ahead of the anniversary.
Despite such threats, the letter expressed faith that justice would eventually come.
“We use our immense maternal love to declare publicly to future generations: do not succumb to brute force, confront all evil forces with courage, and justice will prevail,” the letter read.