Skip to content Skip to navigation

Tiananmen families demand an answer to their request for a criminal investigation

May 30, 2000

On May 24, a letter signed by 108 family members of victims of the June Fourth 1989 Massacre was sent to China’s top prosecutorial body demanding the response to the petition they submitted at this time last year to which they are entitled under Chinese law. The letter, which is translated in full below, was sent by registered mail to the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, with copies to President Jiang Zemin, Premier Zhu Rongji, NPC Vice-Chairman Tian Jiyun and CPPCC Chairman Liu Ruihuan, as well as to Xinhua News Agency.

The letter refers to the families’ unprecedented petition submitted last year to the Supreme People’s Procuratorate demanding a criminal investigation into the 1989 massacre and the prosecution of those responsible. Under Chinese law, the Procuratorate is required either to initiate a criminal investigation or to explain to the complainants who have submitted such a request why it has decided not to do so. But one year has elapsed, and the families have received no reply.

Last May, Zhang Xianling, 63, and Su Bingxian, 65—mothers who lost their young sons in the 1989 massacre—personally delivered the petition to the Beijing office of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate. With it they included newly-collected evidence showing that the actions of the martial law troops in 1989 constituted crimes under Chinese law, including 24 detailed testimonies from family members of the dead and three from those injured, along with a name list of 155 people who were killed and 65 who were wounded. The petition presented strong legal arguments as to why the facts merited a criminal investigation. In the letter below the families once again emphasize the legality of their petition and their demand a response.

Human Rights in China calls upon the international community to urge the government of China to act in accordance with Chinese law and provide a response to the families’ demands. We applaud the courage of these victims of the massacre in pursuing their campaign against impunity, a cause which links them to the global trend.

MAILED MAY 24, 2000



Letter from victims of the June Fourth 1989 Massacre to the Supreme People's Procuratorate

To: the Supreme People’s Procuratorate of the People’s Republic of China

We are people wounded in the June Fourth 1989 Massacre and and the family members of those killed, and we submitted a petition to you on May 17, 1999, in accordance with the PRC Constitution and the relevant provisions of the Criminal Procedure Law. In the petition, we requested an official investigation into the crimes committed during the June Fourth massacre and the culpability of former Premier Li Peng. On May 24 of that same year, we submitted to you related, supplementary materials on this case.

According to the Criminal Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China, the procuratorial organs must promptly examine any complaints submitted by citizens, and if they consider that the facts show that a crime has been committed, they must initiate a prosecution. If the facts do not show evidence of a crime, or if the crime is extremely minor, they do not have to initiate a prosecution, but must inform the petitioner who submitted the complaint of the reasons for choosing not to prosecute.

A full year has passed since we submitted the above-mentioned petition to you, and while we have waited patiently for your decision, we have never received a reply. We believe that the Constitution and the law are sacred, that ordinary citizens have the right and the duty to report anyone suspected of having committed a crime, and that the judicial organs must safeguard this right. At the same time, we believe that the law must be equally applied to all citizens, and if anyone, including a government leader, violates the law, he should be prosecuted.

In our petition of May 17, 1999, and the supplementary materials we sent you on May 24, 1999, we enumerated a great number of relevant facts and based on these facts, we concluded that between May and June 1989 there was no armed rebellion or revolt in Beijing, but the government authorities mobilized tens of thousands of troops to suppress peaceful demonstrators with armed force, brutally killing peaceful citizens. This action was illegal and an abuse of government authority and of the state’s armed forces.

The petition also showed that the extensive slaughter of peaceful demonstrators and peaceful civilians seriously violated not only China’s Constitution, but also the international obligations of sovereign countries to protect humanity. Moreover, these acts developed from disregard for human and civil rights to completely anti-human violence, constituting not only violation of citizens’ rights to security of the person but also deliberate deprivation of the right to life. The extremely serious results of these acts are sufficient to demonstrate that crimes were committed.

The petition also indicated that former Premier Li Peng not only participated in the highest level of decision-making relating to the massacre, he was also directly involved in implementing this decision. Thus he should bear primary responsibility for the massacre and its serious consequences. His actions must be subject to prosecution in accordance with the law.

The facts in the petition we have submitted to you are clear, the evidence is conclusive, and there is ample legal foundation for our claims. The procuratorial organs should accept our request for an investigation, and must not just set it aside without consideration.

The Constitution of our country clearly states that this is a "country ruled by law," and the leaders of the state and the government have repeatedly stressed that we must strengthen our rule of law. In view of such statements, we sincerely hope that the Supreme People’s Procuratorate will quickly initiate a prosecution regarding our complaint, and give us a clear and definite reply on this matter.


Ding Zilin, Zhang Xianling, Zhou Shuzhuang, Li Xuewen, Su Bingxian, Xu Jue, You Weijie, Huang Jinping, Guo Liying, Liu Tian’ai, Zhang Yanqiu, Du Dongxu, Wu Dingfu, Sun Chengkang, He Xingcai, Meng Jinxiu, Yao Furong, Lu Yubao, Lu Masheng, Liu Meihua, Zhang Shusen, Yang Darong, Liu Xiuchen, Zhou Shuzhen, Ma Xueqin, Yuan Changlu, Meng Jinxiu, Zhang Zhenxia, Wang Guirong, Li Xianyuan, Jin Zhenyu, Cheng Shuzhen, Suo Xiun? Gao Jie, Zhou Zhigang, Yuan Shumin, Zhou Yan, Yin Min, Yang Yinshan, Fang Zheng, Qi Zhiyong, Kuang Diqing, Shi Feng, Li Shujuan etc. (108 signatories total)

May 22, 2000

Related Link: