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Exactly Who’s Afraid Of Whom In Our Society Today?

February 2, 2015

[Translation by Human Rights in China]

On the afternoon of February 2, 2015, the Tiananmen Mothers in Beijing gathered for their annual Spring Festival reunion activities. They once again reserved four tables, but the number of attendees this year was clearly smaller than in prior years, to the extent that the atmosphere was somewhat sad and emotional. Throughout the meal, one could occasionally hear voices in conversation or sighs, but not the sounds of laughter.

Ms. You Weijie, host of the event, shared with us that in 2014, we lost fellow family members of victims Zhao Tingjie (赵廷杰) and Lu Masheng (陆马生). In fewer than 20 years, 37 fellow family members of victims have departed our group; and those who remain are elderly and frail, have difficulty getting around, or are battling cancer and unable to join.

You can imagine how heavy our hearts were during those few minutes of silence when we stood together to remember our departed loved ones and the members of our group who have left us. Even the air seemed to have frozen.

Afterwards, Ms. Ding Zilin told us about the Olof Palme Prize  for human rights, named after the late former Prime Minister of Sweden, Olof Palme, Xu Youyu being awarded the 2014 prize, and that he surprised everyone by donating all of the award money [$75,000] to the Tiananmen Mothers. But when Ms. Ding talked more about the unfair treatment Mr. Xu received—that is, after successfully organizing a June Fourth 25th Anniversary seminar, he was, along with friends who attended the seminar, detained and deprived of his freedom—our mood of pleasant surprise turned immediately into one of anger and stirred-up emotions. Even as we expressed our appreciation of and admiration for Mr. Xu Youyu’s bravery, everyone couldn’t help talking with one another about the kinds of persecution that family members of June Fourth victims suffered during the June Fourth 25th anniversary year, including police monitoring and interrogation. Everyone generally felt that the intense crackdown over the past year was clearly greater than that in the previous year. The clearest indication was that the authorities obstructed and broke up a plan to hold a June Fourth 25th anniversary memorial service in the home of a victim’s family. This was unprecedented in the more than 20 years since June Fourth. What does this show? Everyone was wondering this same question. The Tiananmen Mothers are destined to confront this cruel reality—no one can escape it. When the time came for us to leave, we still encouraged one another to “persevere with dignity” and “live with dignity.” Faced with the oppressive rule and intense crackdown in our society today, we all clearly understand this: truth is on our side, and who is afraid of whom!

Originally published in Chinese in Shuangzhoukan, Volume 149, January 23-February 5, 2015.