Today, HRIC launches a new advocacy initiative: “June Fourth at 25: Resisting Enforced Amnesia, Building a Just Future.”
Since the military crackdown on the 1989 Democracy Movement, known as June Fourth, HRIC has provided advocacy support and solidarity to individuals and groups—particularly the Tiananmen Mothers, a group of family members of June Fourth victims and survivors—who have worked to hold the Chinese authorities accountable for their violence against unarmed and peaceful civilians.
“June Fourth at 25” builds upon HRIC’s existing program activities relating to June Fourth, including press work, translation, production of multimedia resources, and participation in commemorative events.
The lead component of the initiative is the “Records of Visits and Interviews with Families of June Fourth Victims,” a collection of stories about 16 June Fourth victims and one survivor, written by members of the Tiananmen Mothers based on their visits and interviews with the victims’ families that began in fall 2013.
Last year, following the 24th anniversary of June Fourth, the Tiananmen Mothers asked themselves:
In all these years, and through all the energy and effort we had expended, we had not been able to get justice for our loved ones, or slow the pace of old age or sickness among our fellow family members who had shared in our common struggle over all these years. . . . What should we do for those who have passed away? And how should we commemorate the lost souls of June Fourth?
Their answer was to document the lives and deaths of the victims as a way to honor them and to continue to press for justice.
In fall 2013, several members of the group, organized in small teams, embarked on their journeys to many different provinces and municipalities in a wide swath of China. Ding Zilin has described these visits as “rare and weighty journeys that made possible direct heart-to- heart exchanges.”
HRIC is presenting these moving and heartbreaking stories, in Chinese original and English translation, between now and June 4, 2014, beginning with the following three items:
“There is Always a Wound in My Heart—How Can I Forget?”
by You Weijie and Wu Lihong
The story of Tian Daoming (田道明), 22, male, a senior in the Department of Management of the University of Science and Technology Beijing, originally from Shishou City, Hubei Province. He was crushed to death by a tank in the early morning of June 4, 1989.
“Son of the Earth—Chen Yongting”
by You Weijie
The story of Chen Yongting (陈永廷), 20, male, a student at the Department of Economics of the Central Institute for Nationalities (中央民族学院). He was the first and only person from a poor, remote mountain village in the Youyang Miao and Tujia Autonomous County outside of Chongqing, to go to college. He was shot to death on Tiananmen Square the night of June 3, 1989.
Collectively, these stories constitute powerful documentation of the innocent lives lost in a government-orchestrated tragedy. They also strengthen the foundation that the Tiananmen Mothers have courageously built over the past decades, upon which to press for government accountability.