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June Fourth at 25: Resisting Enforced Amnesia, Building a Just Future

In June 1989, the Chinese authorities ended a peaceful protest movement by ordering a military crackdown that killed an untold number of unarmed civilians.

Over the past quarter century since the June Fourth crackdown, HRIC has provided advocacy support and solidarity to individuals and groups—particularly the Tiananmen Mothers, a group of family members of June Fourth victims and survivors—who have worked to hold the Chinese authorities accountable for their violence against unarmed and peaceful civilians.

HRIC’s “June Fourth at 25: Resisting Enforced Amnesia, Building a Just Future” initiative builds upon our existing program activities relating to June Fourth, including press work, translation, production of multimedia resources, and participation in commemorative events.

The lead component of the initiative is the “Records of Visits and Interviews with Families of June Fourth Victims,” a collection of stories about 16 June Fourth victims and one survivor, written by members of the Tiananmen Mothers based on their visits and interviews with the victims’ families that began in fall 2013.

Last year, following the 24th anniversary of June Fourth, the Tiananmen Mothers asked themselves:

In all these years, and through all the energy and effort we had expended, we had not been able to get justice for our loved ones, or slow the pace of old age or sickness among our fellow family members who had shared in our common struggle over all these years. . . .  What should we do for those who have passed away? And how should we commemorate the lost souls of June Fourth?

Their answer was to document the lives and deaths of the victims as a way to honor them and to continue to press for justice.

In fall 2013, several members of the group, organized in small teams, embarked on their journeys to many different provinces and municipalities in a wide swath of China. Ding Zilin has described these visits as “rare and weighty journeys that made possible direct heart-to- heart exchanges.”

HRIC is presenting these moving and heartbreaking stories, in Chinese original and English translation, in the lead up to June 4, 2014. Below is the list of the essays published to-date.

Collectively, these stories constitute powerful documentation of the innocent lives lost in a government-orchestrated tragedy. They also strengthen the foundation the Tiananmen Mothers have courageously built over the past decades, providing a basis upon which to press for government accountability.

“Records of Visits and Interviews with Families of June Fourth Victims”
International Official Statements on 25th Anniversary of June Fourth
  • United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay(EN, CH)
  • Canada (EN, CH)
  • Germany (EN)
  • United States, The White House (EN, CH)
  • United States, Department of State, John Kerry (EN, CH)
  • US Congressional-Executive Commission on China (EN)
  • US House Democractic Leader, Nancy Pelosi (EN)
Photos: May-June 1989, Beijing
Photos from HRIC archive and courtesy of Gail Butler, Libby Schmalz.

Other Resources
June Fourth 25th Anniversary Related Activities
■ Overseas ■ Online ■ Hong Kong




Conferences and hearings:

Remembering June 4th 1989: The Role of Hong Kong in China

HRIC, together with the Centre for Comparative and Public Law & the Law Association of the University of Hong Kong, will host a documentary screening followed by a panel discussion at the University of Hong Kong. See event page for details.

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