Skip to content Skip to navigation

“An Offering to the Spirits of the Victims”: Essay by the Tiananmen Mothers

June 1, 2010

At the request of the Tiananmen Mothers, Human Rights in China (HRIC) is releasing the following essay that commemorates the victims of June Fourth on its 21st anniversary.

 


 “An Offering to the Spirits of the Victims
on the 21st Anniversary of the June Fourth Massacre”

from the Tiananmen Mothers

[Translation by Human Rights in China]

 

A massacre in Beijing shocked the world twenty-one years ago, which claimed the lives of 203 of our beloved. There are still more victims we have yet to find. They have not been revealed to the world, their whereabouts unknown. However, today, twenty-one years later, the Chinese Communist clique has single-handedly turned the June Fourth massacre into a closely-guarded secret, making it seem as if those days never occurred. Time can weaken memories; can it also make the truth disappear?

That year, following the massacre, due to condemnation from the international community, Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin made a promise to some visiting foreign friends: The names and numbers of the dead would be announced in due course. Yet the Chinese Communist authorities are always insincere, and do not keep their word; they only calculate cost and benefit. After Deng and Jiang made their promises, the people from within China and around the world and the families of the dead and wounded paid close attention to what the Chinese Communists would do to follow up. Yet since then, within the succession of governments, no one has dared to mention the names and number of the victims. All information on the June Fourth Massacre, including the information on the dead and injured, has become top-secret.

Time can weaken memories; can it also make the truth disappear?

It was also from this time on that we, the relatives of those injured and lost, who have endured great pains and suffering, have become bound by duty to locate the dead and wounded. We, the Mothers, who do not fear the threats and suppression of the authorities, nor their rumors and slander, like Sisyphus rolling the stone up the mountain, have searched for them, one by one, carrying out our task bit by bit, using our immense will to expose the authorities’ cheats and lies, achieving the results we have today.

The Chinese Communist clique has always pursued this unspoken rule: A lie repeated a thousand times becomes the truth. Even though it is something that is witnessed by all, if everyone “knows it is white, but maintains it is black,” then in time the dimness will no longer be visible. The Chinese Communists in power have been engaged in “enforced amnesia” for a long time, not allowing the mention of anything related to June Fourth to such an extent that some young people born in the 1980s and 1990s do not even believe that a savage slaughter occurred twenty-one years ago on this land of ours. Even if they have heard of it by chance, their knowledge of it lags far behind. The Chinese Communist authorities consider themselves clever. By doing things this way, they feel as if they have found an opportunity to push June Fourth into the annals of distant history, even to the point that they can toss away the blood debt of June Fourth. Yet, beginning with the first list of 16 victims we announced in June 1993, then 96, 115, 186, 196, to the current total of 203, each of these was a person, of flesh and blood, and with a name. Though they all disappeared in an instant, with their names so prominently in view who can conceal them? Who can rub them out? The massacre of twenty-one years ago is an inescapable truth. If you still have even an ounce of conscience left, after spending a day in the hustle and bustle of this grotesque and garish “harmonious world” created by the Chinese Communists in power, all that will remain is bound to be an infinite fear. A long, lingering fear.

In May 1995, a group of us, mothers of the victims, gathered to make three requests to the National People’s Congress as the basis for an impartial resolution of the June Fourth issue. Our requests were: launch a new investigation into the June Fourth incident, and a publicly announce the death toll and the names of the dead; account to the family of each victim of the crackdown, and make compensation in accordance with the law; and investigate and prosecute those criminally responsible. You have heard our voices, yet you did not dare respond. We have reiterated our three requests every year for fifteen years now, yet you still dare not respond. We do not fear your silence. We will not abandon what we have raised.

In 1999, we formed a dialogue group of 20 and asked the government authorities to open an equal and sincere dialogue on the June Fourth issue. You have heard our voices, yet you still dare not respond. Since then, we have asked for a dialogue every year, yet each year you dare not respond. We do not fear your silence. We will not abandon what we have raised.

On the tenth anniversary of June Fourth, we used legal procedures to file a complaint in the Supreme People’s Procuratorate against Li Peng, who was one of the primary instigators of the June Fourth Massacre. The Procuratorate accepted our complaint, but, ten years later, we have yet to hear from them; they still have not responded despite our repeated urgings. May we ask, then, is it possible that Li Peng is above the law? Is it possible that he has the privilege of being exempt from prosecution?

In 2001, we released Words from the Tiananmen Mothers (天安门母亲的话). The Mothers announced to all of our compatriots in China and abroad who pay close attention to national affairs and are concerned for the future of our people: no longer would we be an ignorant, apathetic group; no longer would we be weepers who blame the gods and others. As we had stood up, never again would we stand down. We have endured profound suffering, but this suffering that weighs heavily in the bottoms of our hearts is no longer the kind of eye-for-an-eye narrow-mindedness and hatred. Rather, it has become an undertaking born of a sense of justice and responsibility.

This is the first time since becoming a group that we, the Tiananmen Mothers, are making major adjustments in our views and demands, namely: We are citizens, not resentful people! We must avoid employing the practice of “using violence to stop violence; replacing violence with violence” common in Chinese history. As citizens with dignity and confidence, we should join the ranks of others in the world fighting for freedom, democracy, and human rights.

In the two years between 2006 and 2008, we took a hard look again at our own philosophy and demands. We came to a decision: Following the principle of doing the easy before the difficult, with regards to large divergences and problems in which it is impossible to come to a consensus instantly—for example, determining the nature of the June Fourth incident—we can set aside the dispute temporarily, and first address the issues involving the basic rights and vital interests of victims. This is yet another necessary, but limited, adjustment to the philosophy we previously espoused. We have gradually come to understand from the blood, tears, and suffering that June Fourth is not only the misfortune of any single family, but rather it is the misfortune of the entire nation. This kind of misfortune stems from suspicion and hostility among people, from our countrymen’s disregard for the inherent value of life and human beings, and from the lack of civilization and the absence of the rule of law in this land of ours. Therefore, the way to salvage this situation cannot rely on using violence to stop violence and the mortal struggle between the classes which occurred repeatedly in Chinese history, or the “scientific development” or “getting close with the people” declarations repeated by those in power today. Rather, we must employ peaceful methods to bring an end to traditional authoritarian politics in China and establish the authority of modern democracy and constitutionalism, make every citizen break away from the characteristic of reliance and the historical torpor passed down from the imperial era, and establish the concept of universal human values. Based on this consensus, we have decided, with the greatest sincerity and utmost restraint, to strive for a peaceful resolution of the June Fourth issue.

Therefore, in 2009 we asked the government to provide us with a timetable for dialogue. We took notice that the trend in the world today is to replace confrontation with dialogue. The Chinese government has, in international affairs, similarly taken the initiative to use dialogue to resolve differences and disputes, and thus, we have even more sufficient reason for requesting the government to use the same method in resolving the nation’s internal differences and disputes. If we can succeed in using dialogue to replace confrontation on the June Fourth problem, it would mean fortune for our entire nation, and well-being for all our countrymen. A little more dialogue would mean a little more civilization and rule of law in China, and also a little less ignorance and imperiousness. Dialogue does not lead society to antagonism or hatred, but rather leads it to tolerance and reconciliation.

This is our philosophy and position for resolving the June Fourth issue. The Chinese Communist authorities should have heard our voices, and yet there has been no answer. We ask, is it that you dare not answer, or is it impossible for you to answer? You ought to give us, this group of elderly mothers who has suffered 21 years of pain and torment, an answer. Can it be that you really want to wear us all down or wait for our deaths so that the problem will naturally disappear?

For more than a decade, with the slightest of pretext, you have posted guards and sentries in front of the home of each victim’s family, followed us closely, watched us, eavesdropped on our phone conversations, interfered with our computer communications, and opened and confiscated our mail. All this has become commonplace. You have even arbitrarily detained us, arrested us, searched our homes and confiscated our posessions, frozen donations to us, and deprived the freedom of movement of relatives of the victims. You have even used police vehicles to chase us miles out of Beijing into the suburbs to monitor us. Last year, on the eve of June Fourth, even the mothers in Beijing who gathered in the homes of the families of the victims to keep each other’s company while silently paying respect to the departed spirit of their loved ones suffered flagrant interference. Even worse, some members were banned from participating in the memorial service, and others were forbidden even from pouring wine at the place and time of death of their loved ones.

All of this wicked conduct that perverses the natural and human orders leaves one bristling with anger. In contrast, you have created Confucius Institutes all over the country and even across the world, promoting the doctrines of Confucius and Mencius. You cannot speak without using “harmonious society” every three sentences. When you use rhetoric like “putting people first” and “treasuring life” in every which place, do you not hear the rage and howl from beyond of those victims from twenty-one years ago? Do you not hear the cry in the wilderness of the mothers of the June Fourth victims over the past twenty-one years?

We pray that our loved ones who have not yet been laid to rest may soon rest in peace!

 

Signers:

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

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

张桂荣 Zhang Guirong

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

雷 勇 Lei Yong

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

肖宗友 Xiao Zongyou

乔秀兰 Qiao Xiulan

(128 names)

 

In accordance with suggestions by fellow victims, we have decided to append the following list of signers from previous years who have already passed away, so as to honor the last wishes of the departed:

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

段宏炳 Duan Hongbing

刘春林 Liu Chunlin

张耀祖 Zhang Yaozu

(22 names)

June 1, 2010

 


 

For more information on the Tiananmen Mothers, see:

 

 

Explore Topics

709 Crackdown Access to Information Access to Justice Administrative Detention All about law Arbitrary Detention
Asset Transparency Bilateral Dialogue Black Jail Book Review Business And Human Rights Censorship
Charter 08 Children Chinese Law Circumvention technology Citizen Activism Citizen Journalists
Citizen Participation Civil Society Commentary Communist Party Of China Constitution Consumer Safety
Contending views Corruption Counterterrorism Courageous Voices Cultural Revolution Culture Matters
Current affairs Cyber Security Daily Challenges Democratic And Political Reform Demolition And Relocation  Dissidents
Education Elections Enforced Disappearance Environment Ethnic Minorities EU-China
Family Planning Farmers Freedom of Association Freedom of Expression Freedom of Press Freedom of Religion
Government Accountability Government regulation Government transparency Hong Kong House Arrest HRIC Translation
Hukou Human Rights Council Human rights developments Illegal Search And Detention Inciting Subversion Of State Power Information Control 
Information technology Information, Communications, Technology (ICT) International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) International Human Rights International perspective International Relations
Internet Internet Governance JIansanjiang lawyers' rights defense Judicial Reform June Fourth Kidnapping
Labor Camps Labor Rights Land, Property, Housing Lawyer's rights Lawyers Legal System
Letters from the Mainland Major Event (Environment, Food Safety, Accident, etc.) Mao Zedong Microblogs (Weibo) National People's Congress (NPC) New Citizens Movement
Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Olympics One country, two systems Online Activism Open Government Information Personal stories
Police Brutality Political commentary Political Prisoner Politics Prisoner Of Conscience Probing history
Propaganda Protests And Petitions Public Appeal Public Security Racial Discrimination Reeducation-Through-Labor
Rights Defenders Rights Defense Rule Of Law Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Special Topic State compensation
State Secrets State Security Subversion Of State Power Surveillance Technology Thoughts/Theories
Tiananmen Mothers Tibet Torture Typical cases United Nations US-China 
Uyghurs, Uighurs Vulnerable Groups Women Youth Youth Perspective