Human Rights in China (HRIC) is outraged by the Chinese government’s continued persecution of Ding Zilin and victims of the June 4, 1989 Beijing Massacre. On April 1, 2000, Lois Wheeler Snow, the 79-year-old widow of noted sinologist Edgar Snow, was barred from visiting Ding Zilin in her Beijing home on the campus of People’s University. Ms. Snow wanted to show her support to Ding, who lost her 17-year old son in the bloodshed, and to deliver humanitarian assistance funds for massacre victims and their families. Prevented from meeting Ding in person, Ms. Snow gave her donation and a statement of support to Su Bingxian - another mother who lost a son in 1989 - who met her at the campus gate. On the afternoon of April 3, 2000, Su Bingxian, herself, was stopped from seeing Ding Zilin. Upon Su’s approach to Ding’s home, a group of plainclothes police from Beijing’s state security bureau forced Su, 65, into a car. Her current whereabouts are unknown.
In the eleven years since the massacre, the Chinese government has failed to give an official accounting for the civilians killed and wounded and has made no attempt to investigate what happened. Many of the injured and families of the dead are still suffering discrimination, harassment and persecution by the authorities.
Ding Zilin, 63, has been the driving force behind documenting June Fourth victims and the violent events of the 1989 crackdown. Despite persistent persecution--including interrogations, detentions and round-the-clock surveillance, Ding has led the establishment of a support network for June Fourth victims and their families. This network has proved pivotal in distributing humanitarian funds to the wounded and families of the dead, and in mobilizing other mothers in a concerted search for truth and justice.
Over the years, the growing group of June Fourth Mothers and families has appealed again and again to the Chinese government for accountability, but to no avail. Last year, on the tenth anniversary of June Fourth, two mothers - Su Bingxian and Zhang Xianling - delivered documents to China’s Supreme People’s Procuratorate, launching the group’s unprecedented legal action, calling for an official investigation of the massacre and the prosecution of all responsible, including Li Peng and other top leaders. Almost a year later, there is still no response. But the June Fourth Mothers are determined to exhaust all domestic remedies, and, if necessary, to seek justice in an international arena.
In the meantime, the Chinese government continues to intervene in the mothers’ daily lives. They are not allowed to speak openly about the facts of how their loved ones died. They are prohibited from mourning their dead in public. They are prevented from receiving humanitarian funds that are especially necessary, in many cases, because of the loss of a primary wage-earner and the persistence of June Fourth-related job discrimination.
Ms. Snow’s recent attempt to see Ding Zilin was in direct response to the government’s ongoing persecution. Ms. Snow’s original donation for June Fourth humanitarian aid was among the funds confiscated by Chinese authorities when they detained U.S.-based activist Lu Wenhe in December 1999 for trying to deliver over $25,000 to Ding Zilin and the families of June Fourth victims.
On the occasion of Qing Ming, China’s national memorial day, HRIC demands the immediate release of Su Bingxian and the end to the persecution of Ding Zilin and all June Fourth Mothers and families. We reiterate their long-standing demands to the Chinese government:
With the 56th U.N. Commission on Human Rights currently in session, HRIC appeals to members of the international community to recognize China’s deplorable human rights situation, as demonstrated by the continued persecution of the June Fourth Mothers. We urge the Commission on Human Rights to adopt a resolution criticizing the widespread rights abuses in China and calling for Chinese government accountability.
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