Relatives of people killed when China crushed the 1989 Tiananmen democracy movement have called for those responsible to be punished as the 20th anniversary of the bloody crackdown approaches.
In an open letter to the country’s communist rulers ahead of the annual full session of Parliament starting next week, the ”Tiananmen Mothers” also urged an investigation into the military’s actions on June 3 to 4, 1989.
”The ‘June Fourth’ massacre has long secured its place in history’s hall of shame. It absolutely cannot be diminished as a ‘political disturbance’ or even a ‘serious political disturbance’,” said the letter, released by the New York-based Human Rights in China on Friday.
”It was nothing short of an unconscionable atrocity. No amount of force can negate the bitter reality of the thousands of lives snatched away by guns and tanks 20 years ago.”
The mothers asked that the government officially acknowledge the crackdown, ”publicly announce death tolls” and ”investigate ‘June Fourth’ cases to determine those responsible and punish them”.
China’s army gunned down hundreds, perhaps thousands, of peaceful protesters and citizens in the streets of Beijing in June 1989 after six weeks in which an unprecedented pro-democracy movement had begun to gather pace.
The Tiananmen Mothers led by Ding Zilin — whose teenage son was shot dead by soldiers in the early hours of June 4 — has delivered numerous petitions to the Congress, none of which has received a response.
”Another year has passed now, yet we have heard nothing,” said the letter signed by 127 relatives.
Xu Jue (69), a signatory whose 21-year-old son was killed in the crackdown, told AFP she doubted this year would be any different.
”Our children were not wrong, they were fighting for the progress of our country, for democracy and freedom, but they were killed anyway and [the Chinese authorities] still disregard us,” she said.
Her son, Wu Xiangdong, was taking evening classes in electronics at university while he worked during the day, and was close to graduating when he was killed in June 1989.
China’s Communist Party has never offered a full account of the crackdown and has branded the pro-democracy protests a counter-revolutionary rebellion, hunting down ringleaders and jailing hundreds of suspects.
Xu said the Tiananmen Mothers were preparing activities to mark this year’s 20th anniversary.
”We will commemorate this, unless they stop us, but we cannot say what we want to do now,” she said.
The letter also suggested that China’s Parliament eliminate the ”taboo” of ”June Fourth” by conducting a broad survey to find out what ordinary Chinese people think about the incident.
”This … will require each deputy to demonstrate extraordinary courage and resourcefulness, political courage and wisdom, to break the taboo and face head-on the unspeakable tragedy that took place 20 years ago,” the letter said. ”If this should happen, you will have brought a great blessing upon our people and your achievement will go down in history.” — AFP