Skip to content Skip to navigation

Please Show Courage, Break the Taboo, Face "June Fourth" Head On (Tiananmen Mothers)

February 26, 2009

Open Letter by the Tiananmen Mothers

Translation by Human Rights in China

The Honorable Deputies of the Eleventh Session of the Second Plenary of the National People’s Congress and Committee Members of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference:

This year marks the 20th Anniversary of the “June Fourth” Massacre.

In the last century, on June 4, 1989, the Chinese authorities launched a massacre against peaceful demonstrators and civilians in the capital, seriously violating our country’s constitution and breaching their duty, as leaders of a sovereign state, to protect the people. This was an unconscionable atrocity that grew from a longstanding contempt for human rights and civil rights.

Over this long stretch of time, government authorities deliberately played down “June Fourth,” forbade discussion among our people of “June Fourth,” and prohibited the media from touching on “June Fourth.” China has become like an airtight “iron chamber,” and all the demands of the people about “June Fourth,” all the anguish, lament, and moaning of the victims’ relatives and the wounded of “June Fourth,” have been sealed off from this “iron chamber.” Today, as the deputies and committee members of these “Two Meetings” are stately seated in this assembly hall, can you hear the cry from “June Fourth”? Can you hear the painful sighs of the families of the victims of “June Fourth”? But now, the bloodstains of that time have long been washed away and the bullet marks rubbed out, and the site of the massacre is now decorated with exotic plants and flowers and has become a scene of peace and prosperity.

But can all this conceal the sins of that time? Can it erase the sorrow of the relatives of the victims that deepens year after year?

No! It absolutely cannot. The “June Fourth” massacre has long secured its place in history’s hall of shame. It absolutely cannot be diminished as a “political disturbance” or even a “serious political disturbance.” It was nothing short of an unconscionable atrocity. No amount of force can negate the bitter reality of the hundreds and thousands of lives snatched away by guns and tanks twenty years ago.

Twenty years are not a short time; they are enough for a whole new generation to emerge. This new generation never experienced the bloodshed of that time, nor has it ever felt the desolate calm that settled on a killing field. It has passed; it seems that everything has passed. “Play not the songs of former dynasties; listen instead to the new tune of the ‘Willow Branch.’”* In these 20 years, generations of our country’s leaders have succeeded the one before, from the second generation to the third, and then the fourth. You deputies and committee members of the “Two Meetings” have also changed from session to session. The passage of time and the shift of circumstances seem to have given the party and country leaders a kind of opportunity to minimize “June Fourth” and push it to a distant corner of history.

Even so, China’s Tiananmen Mothers cannot consent. On the question of defining “June Fourth” we feel that we cannot afford to be the least bit vague. Whether to adhere to the initial interpretation or to change it, we must base it on facts and let the truth do the talking. If Deng Xiaoping, then Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Communist Party of China, was wrong in “suppressing the counterrevolutionary rebellion,” then we must overturn it and correct it through established legal procedures and publicly announce it to the whole society, and should not explain it away with the vague term of “political disturbances.”

The Tiananmen Mothers have always held one belief, and that is: act and speak according to the facts; accept no lies. From the start of our inquiry activities, we would repeatedly check and verify our data regarding the person of interest. As of now, not a single one of the 194 dead that we have examined had any history of violence. They are all among the innocent victims of that massacre. They gave their lives for the sake of justice and all we can do is return justice to them, to pursue the justice that comes late to them. Otherwise, we would not be able to face the spirit of the dead.

Since 1995, our group of “June Fourth” victims and loved ones return here every year to write to the “Two Meetings” with three requests for officially acknowledging “June Fourth.” They are: start new investigations on the “June Fourth” incident, publicly announce death tolls, release a list of the names of the dead; clarify each case to the family members of the dead and compensate them according to law; investigate “June Fourth” cases to determine those responsible and punish them. To summarize, our three requests are: “Truth, Compensation, Responsibility.”

We have always upheld the principles of peace and reason. We appeal to the two committees and government authorities to utilize the methods of democracy and open dialogue to come to a just resolution. Yet our requests have not been discussed in the “Two Meetings.”

In 2006, we suggested the following in order to end the stalemate over “June Fourth” and ensure that the situation can develop along a steady path: use the principle of tackling the simpler problems first. The divisive issues that cannot be resolved or agreed upon easily can be set aside temporarily. Instead, first solve the issues that involve the basic rights of the victims and their personal interests. These issues include: 1) remove all monitoring of and restrictions on the movements of “June Fourth” victims and their families; 2) allow families of the dead to openly mourn their loved ones; 3) stop intercepting and confiscating both domestic and international humanitarian aid contributions, and return all the aid money that was previously frozen; 4) relevant government departments should, in humanitarian spirit, help the victims who are facing hard times to find employment and guarantee them a basic livelihood, without any political conditions; 5) remove political biases against the disabled victims of “June Fourth” such that they are treated as all other disabled persons in regards to communal participation and treatment by society, etc.

In 2008, we again proposed to the deputies of the “Two Meetings”: in the world today, dialogue has replaced confrontation. The Chinese government advocates using dialogue to resolve differences and conflicts on international issues. Thus we have an even stronger basis to ask that the government authorities resolve the internal differences and conflicts in the same way. If we are able to use dialogue to replace confrontation on the problem of “June Fourth,” it would benefit the whole country and be a blessing for all our people. The more dialogue we have, the more civility and law and order, and the less ignorance and tyranny. Dialogue does not lead society towards opposition and hatred, but rather, towards tolerance and reconciliation. Using dialogue to solve the problem of “June Fourth” is an imperative path toward societal reconciliation.

Another year has passed now, yet we have heard nothing.

We note that President Hu Jintao said the following in public not long ago: In determining every single policy, we start and end with whether the people endorse it or not, agree with it or not, are happy with it or not, and consent to it or not. We welcome these words. If this is so, then we suggest to the NPC and CPPCC: why not eliminate the taboo of “June Fourth” and conduct a broad survey of the people’s attitudes towards “June Fourth” countrywide, especially in Beijing, to find out what exactly the people endorse? What they agree with? What they are happy with? Consent to? We believe this should not be difficult to do.

But the people of China know very well that the tragic case of “June Fourth” is an “ironclad case” created single-handedly by the second generation leader, Deng Xiaoping. As long as Deng Xiaoping enjoys any lingering prestige in our country from top to bottom and in future history, it would be an extremely formidable task to overturn the conclusion that has “already been decided on by the Party and government,” and to discard the new “Whatever” policy.** Even if “suppressing the counterrevolutionary rebellion” is relabeled as a “serious political disturbance,” the judgment, in essence, still has not changed.

This then will require each deputy to demonstrate extraordinary courage and resourcefulness, political courage and wisdom, to break the taboo and face head-on the unspeakable tragedy that took place 20 years ago and resolve “June Fourth” with the truth. If this should happen, you will have brought a great blessing upon our people and your achievement will go down in history.

* A quote from the first song in a collection of nine titled “Willow Branch” by Tang poet, Liu Yuxi.

** A reference to the “Two Whatevers” policy articulated by Hua Guofeng, who succeeded Mao Zedong as the chairman of the Communist Party of China upon Mao’s death: “We will resolutely uphold whatever policy decisions Chairman Mao made, and unswervingly follow whatever instructions Chairman Mao gave.”


丁子霖 Ding Zilin 张先玲 Zhang Xianling
周淑庄 Zhou Shuzhuang 李雪文 Li Xuewen
徐 珏 Xu Jue 尹 敏 Yin Min
杜东旭 Du Dongxu 宋秀玲 Song Xiuling
于 清 Yu Qing 郭丽英 Guo Liying
蒋培坤 Jiang Peikun 王范地 Wang Fandi
段宏炳 Duan Hongbing 袁可志 Yuan Kezhi
赵廷杰 Zhao Tingjie 吴定富 Wu Dingfu
钱普泰 Qian Putai 孙承康 Sun Chengkang
尤维洁 You Weijie 黄金平 Huang Jinping
贺田凤 He Tianfeng 孟淑英 Meng Shuying
袁淑敏 Yuan Shumin 刘梅花 Liu Meihua
谢京花 Xie Jinghua 马雪琴 Ma Xueqin
邝瑞荣 Kuang Ruirong 张艳秋 Zhang Yanqiu
张树森 Zhang Shulin 杨大榕 Yang Darong
刘秀臣 Liu Xiuchen 沈桂芳 Shen Guifang
谢京荣 Xie Jingrong 孙 宁 Sun Ning
王文华 Wang Wenhua 金贞玉 Jin Zhenyu
要福荣 Yao Furong 孟淑珍 Meng Shuzhen
田淑玲 Tian Shuling 邵秋风 Shao Qiufeng
王桂荣 Wang Guirong 谭汉凤 Tan Hanfeng
孙恒尧 Sun Hengyao 陈 梅 Chen Mei
周 燕 Zhou Yan 李桂英 Li Guiying
徐宝艳 Xu Baoyan 刘春林 Liu Chunlin
狄孟奇 Di Mengqi 杨银山 Yang Yinshan
管卫东 Guan Weidong 高 婕 Gao Jie
索秀女 Suo Xiunü 刘淑琴 Liu Shuqin
王培靖 Wang Peijing 王双兰 Wang Shuanglan
张振霞 Zhang Zhenxia 祝枝弟 Zhu Zhidi
刘天媛 Liu Tianyuan 潘木治 Pan Muzhi
黄定英 Huang Dingying 何瑞田 He Ruitian
程淑珍 Cheng Shuzhen 张耀祖 Zhang Yaosu
轧伟林 Ya Weilin 郝义传 Hao Yichuan
萧昌宜 Xiao Changyi 任金宝 Ren Jinbao
田维炎 Tian Weiyan 杨志玉 Yang Zhiyu
齐国香 Qi Guoxiang 李显远 Li Xianyuan
张彩凤 Zhang Caifeng 王玉芹 Wang Yuqin
韩淑香 Han Shuxiang 曹长先 Cao Changxian
方 政 Fang Zheng 齐志勇 Qi Zhiyong
冯友祥 Feng Youxiang 何兴才 He Xingcai
刘仁安 Liu Renan 李淑娟 Li Shujuan
熊 辉 Xiong Hui 韩国刚 Han Guogang
石 峰 Shi Feng 庞梅清 Pang Meiqing
黄 宁 Huang Ning 王伯冬 Wang Bodong
张志强 Zhang Zhiqiang 赵金锁 Zhao Jinsuo
孔维真 Kong Weizhen 刘保东 Liu Baodong
陆玉宝 Lu Yubao 陆马生 Lu Masheng
齐志英 Qi Zhiying 方桂珍 Fang Guizhen
肖书兰 Xiao Shulan 葛桂荣 Ge Guirong
郑秀村 Zheng Qiuchun 王惠蓉 Wang Huirong
邢承礼 Xing Chengli 桂德兰 Gui Delan
王运启 Wang Yunqi 黄雪芬 Huang Xuefen
王 琳 Wang Lin 刘 乾 Liu Qian
朱镜蓉 Zhu Jingrong 金亚喜 Jin Yaxi
周国林 Zhou Guolin 杨子明 Yang Ziming
王争强 Wang Zhengqiang 吴立虹 Wu Lihong
宁书平 Ning Shuping 郭达显 Guo Daxian
曹云兰 Cao Yunlan 隋立松 Shui Lisong
王广明 Wang Guangming 冯淑兰 Feng Shulan
穆怀兰 Mu Huailan 付媛媛 Fu Yuanyuan
孙淑芳 Sun Shufang 刘建兰 Liu Jianlan
王 连 Wang Lian 李春山 Li Chunshan
蒋艳琴 Jiang Yanqin 何凤亭 He Fengting
谭淑琴 Tan Shuqin   (127 names)

In accordance with suggestions by our friends, we’re also including the following names of our fellow signers from previous years who have passed away as to respect their wishes.

吴学汉 Wu Xuehan 苏冰娴 Su Bingxian
姚瑞生 Yao Ruisheng 杨世鈺 Yang Shiyu
袁长录 Yuan Changlu 周淑珍 Zhou Shuzhen
王国先 Wang Guoxian 包玉田 Bao Yutian
林景培 Lin Jingpei 寇玉生 Kou Yusheng
孟金秀 Meng Jinxiu 张俊生 Zhang Junsheng
吴守琴 Wu Shouqin 周治刚 Zhou Zhigang
孙秀芝 Sun Xiuzhi 罗 让 Luo Rang
严光汉 Yan Guanghan 李贞英 Li Zhenying
邝涤清 Kuang Diqing   (19 names)
Error | Human Rights in China 中国人权 | HRIC


The website encountered an unexpected error. Please try again later.