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Introduction to the “Records of Visits and Interviews with Families of June Fourth Victims”

April 11, 2014

[Translation by Human Rights in China]

On the 25th anniversary of the June Fourth Tragedy

Shortly after the 24th anniversary of June Fourth last year, some of us—June Fourth victims’ family members residing in Beijing—were thinking about the same questions with sadness. 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. They had been departing one after the other, leaving us with unending grief.

In light of the fast approaching 25th anniversary of June Fourth, what should we do for those who have passed away? And how should we commemorate the lost souls of June Fourth?

Over the past 20 some years, we have communicated with fellow family members outside of Beijing via letters, telephone calls, and messages conveyed through trusted intermediaries. We rarely had the chance to visit each other or have face to face contact. Why don’t we team up and go visit our fellow victims’ families in various locations? We were all excited and soon reached a consensus. We then firmed up our plan.

Starting in October 2013, several of our fellow family members, You Weijie (尤维洁), Guo Lingyi (郭丽英), Zhang Yanqiu (张彦秋), and Wu Lihong (吴丽虹), and Yi Min (尹敏), teamed up into groups and took three trips to the following regions: Inner Mongolia and the Northeast; Jiangxi and Guangdong, and Guangxi in the South; Sichuan and Chongqing in the West; and Henan and Hubei in central China. They visited the homes of 20 some victims’ families and, through face-to-face talks and interviews, collected large quantities of very valuable materials.

These were not the ordinary visits among friends and relatives. Rather, they were rare and weighty journeys that made possible direct heart-to-heart exchanges. During these occasions, visitors and interviewees clasped hands and cried together. Upon their return to Beijing, the interviewers, when talking with the Beijing-based fellow family members about each family that they visited, could not help but shed tears.

Starting from today, we will begin to offer to readers this set of Records of Visits and Interviews with Families of June Fourth Victims.

Under the current environment in mainland China, these records are the best commemoration of the lost souls that the Tiananmen Mothers group can offer.

Thus, we would like to thank the five interviewers. They are all approaching or over 60 years old, and some even have serious health ailments. But they all unquestioningly put aside their own elderly family members and grandchildren who need their care to set off on these journeys, traveling far and wide, climbing mountains and crossing rivers, and going deep into remote and desolate areas.

We firmly believe that their efforts and what they have obtained will live on in history, along with 1989 and June Fourth.


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About the Author

Ding Zilin (丁子霖) is the founder and leader of the Tiananmen Mothers, an activist group and a network of families who have lost loved ones in the government crackdown on the 1989 Democracy Movement. She was an associate philosophy professor at Renmin University of China when her son, Jiang Jielian, was killed on June 3, 1989. She started the group June Fourth Victim’s Family later that year after connecting with other parents who lost loved ones. The group’s name was changed to Tiananmen Mothers in 2000.