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Tiananmen Mothers speak on the 12th anniversary of June 4 Massacre

June 4, 2001

To commemorate the twelfth anniversary of the bloody June Fourth, 1989 Massacre, Tiananmen Mothers call upon all people of conscience to continue the demand for accountability of the tragic event. Human Rights in China firmly supports the Tiananmen Mothers, a group of families of victims headed by Ding Zilin, in their search for justice. Rising from grief and despair, the Tiananmen Mothers write, "We support all economic reforms that would bring prosperity to the Chinese people... but strongly oppose stagnation and regression in the political arena; we are against the refusal to reassess the 1989 Tiananmen movement and the June Fourth incident in the name of maintaining stability."

Full text of English translation:

We are victims of the massacre of twelve years ago.

We are a group of mothers brought together by our common fate: our children were killed or wounded because of their involvement in the Tiananmen Democracy Movement.

In the course of the past twelve years, we have mourned in darkness and struggled in a sea of tears. We have been overwhelmed by fear and despair. We have been assailed by rumors and indifference. But, finally we have stood up, just where our sons and daughters fell.

Today, our bodies are still a mass of scars, difficulties still block our path. As our search for justice continues, some courageous mothers, members of our group, have left this world. However, we are no longer helpless and numb with pain; we are no longer just tearful mourners railing against heaven and man. Since we have stood up, we will not lie down again. We are weighed down by tremendous pain and grief, but we no longer bear hatred and hostility in our hearts, we feel a sense of justice and responsibility.

For the past twelve years, we have lived with the fear in our hearts that a moment of indolence would make us forget the loss of our loved ones and the brutality of their killers. We have been profoundly grateful to those who reached out to help us and touched by their simple expressions of concern and sympathy. We realize that all the help we have received demonstrates the morality, conscience and love of humanity. Without the strength we have gathered from this sense of conscience, and the warmth of this love, our group would not have been able to continue to exist until this day. And it would not have been possible ever to achieve justice.

On this occasion of yet another June Fourth Anniversary, we want to express our deepest gratitude to all the friends who have sympathized with and supported us. Let us never forget them! To remember them is as important as remembering those who have harmed us.

Today, all those who sympathize with and support us can take great comfort in the knowledge that as a result of the unremitting efforts of compatriots in China and overseas and the solidarity of those people in the world who love freedom and uphold justice, the government’s attempts to cover up the truth about June Fourth has failed. The identity of those who bear criminal responsibility for the bloody massacre has been revealed to the public eye; their names will live forever as symbols of infamy in the annals of history.

In all these years, we, the Tiananmen Mothers, have devoted ourselves to one most important task: documenting the massacre and seeking accountability for it. Almost every single one of us has put in great efforts towards this end. Part of this effort has been published in the booklet published in 1994 by the Hong Kong magazine, The Nineties, Ding Zilin: List of June Fourth Victims, and the book published in 1999 by Human Rights in China, June Fourth Massacre: Testimonies of the Wounded and the Families of the Dead. In this latter publication, we made public the names of 155 victims and more than 60 injured (since then, we have discovered more victims in both categories) as well as a great deal of information in the form of photographs and testimonies from surviving family members and from those injured.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the group of people of conscience in China represented by Mr. Zhang Liang and American friends including Mr. Andrew Nathan for their role in producing The Tiananmen Papers. Their concerted efforts made possible the publication of the English- and Chinese-language versions of the book. This large volume of documents showing the decision-making processes in the high-level meetings that led to the bloody massacre provides further understanding of the fateful events of June Fourth, bringing us closer to the historical truth. It is also important to acknowledge the help of many activists and witnesses, some anonymous, in supplying evidence and eye-witness accounts. One recent account, written under the pen name Yu Yuan, is from an ordinary college student, who described in vivid detail how a tank ran over more than a dozen students at Liubukou. To this day, as the Chinese Communist Party still refuses to acknowledge this historic crime, we call upon all the participants involved in June Fourth to contribute to these independent efforts to document the facts, creating an outpouring of people’s testimony about what happened.

We are convinced that this people’s campaign to document the facts, to collect physical evidence, documents and testimony and present them to the public, will inevitably put the perpetrators of this tragedy into the position of defendants, eventually making possible a reassessment of the June Fourth incident in the not-too-distant future. This process, we hope, will achieve a just resolution to the still-unresolved issues of June Fourth on the basis of objective facts. We also believe that this would make an invaluable contribution to the progress of liberalization and democratization of the Chinese society, economy and polity.

Here we want to state clearly to those of sense in the Chinese Communist Party, the government and the top leadership: we support all economic reforms that would bring prosperity to the Chinese people, including marketization and reform of property rights based on principles of fairness and justice. However, we oppose stagnation and regression in the political arena; we are against the refusal to reassess the 1989 Tiananmen movement and the June Fourth incident in the name of maintaining stability. The progressively greater exposure of the truth about these events has made it untenable to avoid such a reassessment. In the twelfth year since June Fourth, we are especially opposed to the unrelenting political repression and brutal suppression of independent dissident activities, including the persecution of popular religious beliefs and practices, such as Falungong. We object to the continuing restrictions imposed on expression, publication and belief and censorship of the press and the Internet, policies which deprive us of our civil rights and freedoms. We find the way the exercise of free expression and thought is criminalized an absurdity.

We also oppose using protecting state sovereignty and upholding national dignity as excuses for rejecting and dismissing the international community’s valid criticisms of China’s poor human rights record, which are based on humanity’s agreed moral standards and universally-accepted principles. We believe that now is the time to begin fundamental changes to these domestic policies which go against the global trend and the principles of human civilization. If the ruling authorities continue stubbornly to resist such change, putting their selfish personal interests and those of a single party above all and disregarding a favorable opportunity to make this shift in policies, then our country and our people will encounter further disaster. History will prove that such inaction constitutes a new crime against the people.

In short, we appeal to all those compatriots inside and outside the country who are sincerely concerned about the fate of our country and the Chinese people: in the past century, we have endured exploitation and humiliation by the West. This past should not be forgotten. But, at the same time, now that we have the chance to approach the world today with a new attitude, to embrace the future and step into this new century, we must not let the burden of past humiliation act as a barrier to our progress. We need quickly to adopt a mature approach, and embrace the modern world with the clarity and rationality of an open mind, disregarding the nationalist incitements of unreasonable dictators intent on retaining their power. We need to maintain state power and uphold ethnic dignity without violating the rights and dignity of the individual. Otherwise, we would only be refining the shackles of the people and never become a free and respected member of the world family.

Last, but not least, we would like to reiterate our collective responsibility as mothers. Although we each have our own different social position, living environment, political and religious beliefs, our love for our sons, daughters, for all children, and our wish for peace and tranquility are the same. We also share our aversion to might, violence and killing, and our sympathy for the weak and the victimized, because all this comes from a very basic motherly instinct. Even if we don’t have anything to our names, even if we are not able to accomplish very much, we still have that motherly love. It is this kind of love that unites us as a group and leads us along the road towards justice. It is also this kind of love that lends us dignity and confidence to join the struggle of all those around the world who seek freedom, democracy and human rights.

Today, we see this love as a type of responsibility. With this quality, we hope we can appeal to the conscience of the people, dispelling hatred and distrust among people, and changing the misunderstanding that still lingers in our minds about the value of life and of individual people. We believe this great love stems from the source of life. The responsibility it confers on us makes us stronger and wiser. It will turn our world into a better and more humane place where we can bring violence and killing to an end.

The unfortunate Chinese people have shed too many tears, piled up too many regrets. We have a responsibility to contribute our efforts towards ending this miserable history. Although our situation remains very difficult, we have no reason to be pessimistic or to despair, because we believe justice, truth and love will eventually triumph over might, lies and tyranny.

The Tiananmen Mothers Campaign—Victims of June Fourth and Victims Family Members:

Ding Zilin Zhang Xianling Zhou Shuzhuang

Li Xuewe Xu Jue Du Dongxu

Song Xiuli Yu Qing Guo Liying

Jiang Peikun Wang Fandi Yuan Kezhi

Duan Hongbing Yin Min Zhao Tingjie

Qian Putai Wu Dingfu Sun Chengkang

Yang Shiyu Kuang Diqing You Weijie

Huang Jinping He Tianfeng Meng Shuying

Yuan Shumin Liu Meihua Xie Jinghua

Zhou Shuzhen Ma Xueqin Kuang Ruirong

Zhang Yanqiu Zhang Shusen Yang Darong

Liu Xiuchen Shen Guifang Xie Jingrong

Sun Ning Wang Guoxian Zhang Junshen

Yuan Changlu Wang Wenhua Jin Zhenyu

Meng Jinxiu Yao Furong Sun Xiuzhi

Meng Shuzhen Tian Shuling Kou Yusheng

Wang Guirong Tan Hanfeng Sun Hengyao

Zhou Yan Li Guiying Xu Baoyan

Liu Chunlin Di Mengqi Yang Yinshan

Guan Weidong Gao Jie Suo Xiun?

Liu Shuqin Wang Peijing Wang Shuanglan

Zhang Zhenxia Zhu Zhidi Yao Ruisheng

Liu Tianyuan Pan Muzhi Huang Dingying

He Ruitian Chen Shuzhen Zhang Yaozu

Bao Yutian Ya Weilin Hao Yichuan

Xiao Changyi Ren Jinbao Lin Jingpei

Tian Weiyan Yang Zhiyu Qi Guoxiang

Li Xianyuan Zhang Caifeng Wang Yuqin

Han Shuxiang Cao Changxian Fang Zheng

Qi Zhiyong Feng Youxiang He Xingcai

Liu Ren An Li Shujuan Xiong Hui

Han Guogang Shi Feng Zhou Zhigang

Pang Meiqing Huang Ning Wang Bodong

Zhang Zhiqiang Zhao Jinsuo Kong Weizhen

Liu Baodong Lu Yubao Lu Masheng

Qi Zhiying Fang Guizhen Xiao Shulan

Ge Guirong Zheng Xiucun Wang Huirong

A total of 111 signatures

May 27, 2001

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