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Letter from Ding Zilin to Mrs. Lois Snow

March 27, 2017

Ding Zilin, mother of Jiang Jielian, who was shot and killed, at age 17, on the night of June 3, 1989, is a founder of the Tiananmen Mothers group. Mrs. Lois Snow is the widow of the late Edgar Snow,  American journalist and author of Red Star Over China (1937), widely regarded as one of  the most important books about the birth of the Communist movement in China.  


Dear Mrs. Lois Snow,

How are you and your daughter and her family? I miss you very much.

I’ve survived another miserable year. Whenever I was alone and sad, I couldn’t help thinking of you, drawing strength from your fortitude in adversity.

My dear friend! Like this, I managed to overcome my weakness time and again—because sometimes I really didn’t want to live anymore, and would rather go to heaven to find my husband and son.

Anyway, let me tell you news that might provide some comfort!

Perhaps it was the Tiananmen Mothers’ perseverance over the past ten years that touched heaven—Mr. Snow's grave at Weiming Lake at Peking University is finally no longer overgrown and grimy, and Mr. Snow is no longer lonesome even though he is far away from you and the family. Not only do generation after generation of Chinese people learn about the friendship between Mr. Snow and Mao Zedong, along with the Communist Party of China, from official propaganda (not long ago, the series "Red Star Over China," probably a new production, aired on television—I did not watch it), the observant ones can also discern from the fresh flowers that the Tiananmen Mothers place in front of Mr. Snow’s tombstone on February 15 each year the unceasing friendship between you—and Mr. Snow, whom you represent—and the ordinary Chinese people, and the profound meaning embedded in that friendship.

At 10:00 am on February 15, when our group of Tiananmen Mothers climbed the small hillside to offer our flowers as we’ve done for several years, we found that not only the grave was clean, but also some people had come before us and placed flowers in front of it. Some were just individual branches, others in bunches—but none bore any names. A few years ago, there were even flower baskets placed there by official groups or semi-official civil society groups.

This year, when the four of us (myself and Yin Min, mothers of June Fourth victims, and You Weijie and Huang Jinping, widows of June Fourth victims) went to visit Mr. Snow’s grave, we found four bunches of withered flowers placed in front of the tombstone. Two of them were wrapped in English newspapers, which might have been laid there by foreign friends. There were also two empty flower baskets on the ground behind the tombstone. We surmise that people had been coming to place flowers at Mr. Snow’s grave ever since the Chinese New Year.

Great love has no borders, and is not obstructed by ideology. We were deeply touched and wanted to share that with you.

Dear Mrs. Snow! In the earthly world, 17 years ago you traveled thousands of miles to China in spite of your advanced age, but power thwarted our seeing each other. Nonetheless, some day, in heaven, we will finally be able to embrace one another freely.

In the meantime, I, with all my heart, wish you a healthy and long life! And bless your whole family!

I’d like to note that the attached photos of us this year in front of the cemetery were taken by a student of the School of Economics at Peking University who was passing by.

Love,

Ding Zilin 


亲爱的路易斯∙斯诺夫人:

您和您的女儿一家都好吗?我十分惦念您。

我又熬过了凄苦的一年。每当我独自悲伤之时就不由自主地想起您,从您的不幸与坚强中汲取力量。

亲爱的朋友!我就是这样一次又一次地战胜自己的软弱,因为有时我真不想活下去了,我想去天国寻找那父子俩。

还是让我告诉您一些可以略加宽慰的消息吧!

也许是我们这些天安门母亲十多年来的坚持感动了上苍,北京大学未名湖畔斯诺先生的墓地终于不再荒芜与污秽,斯诺先生即使远离您和家人但也不再孤寂。一代又一代的中国民众不仅从官方宣传中得知斯诺先生与毛泽东以及中共的友谊(前不久电视中还播放了大概是新拍摄的“红星照耀中国”——我没有看);有心人更会从年年2月15日那天先生墓前“天安门母亲”所献的鲜花中体察到您和您所代表的斯诺先生与我们中国普通民众之间那割不断的情谊及其所蕴含的深刻含义。

已经连续有好几年了,在2月15日上午10点我们“天安门母亲”一行人登上小山坡墓地献花时,就发现不仅墓地干净,而且墓碑前已有人先我们之前献上了鲜花,或是一支、或是一束,但都未署名,甚至前几年还有以官方和半官方民间团体名义献的花篮。

今年我们四人(我和尹敏—“六四”遇难者母亲、尤维洁、黄金平—“六四”遇难者遗孀)前往扫墓时发现墓碑前已有四束已枯萎之鲜花。其中两束还是用英文报纸包着的,很可能是外国友人所献。墓碑背后土地上还有两个空花篮,据我们分析,也许中国春节以来就不断有人给斯诺先生献花。

大爱无国界,也不受意识形态所阻挠。我们深受感动,愿在此与您分享。

亲爱的斯诺夫人!在尘世,十七年前您不顾年事已高不远万里来到中国,强权阻挠我们相见,然而,不久的将来,在天国,我终能可以与您自由相拥。

但现在我衷心祝愿您健康长寿!并为您全家祝福!

需要说明的是,今年所附上的几张墓地合影是我们请路过墓地的北大经济学院的学子代为拍摄的。

爱您的丁子霖

2017年2月17日

中国人权双周刊》首发,转载请注明出处。
(第205期,2017年3月17日—3月30日)

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