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An Essay on the 28th Anniversary of the June Fourth Massacre

June 1, 2017

At the request of the Tiananmen Mothers, Human Rights in China (HRIC) is issuing the following essay by the group to commemorate the victims of June Fourth on its 28th anniversary.

An Essay on the 28th Anniversary of the
June Fourth Massacre

The Tiananmen Mothers
June 1, 2017

[Translation by Human Rights in China]

The year 2017 marks the 28th anniversary of the June Fourth Massacre of 1989. Time flies and is never to be recalled. Over the past 28 years, we, the victims’ family members, have never ceased to suffer from the heart-wrenching grief of the loss of our loved ones! All of us—including survivors who were wounded or disabled—are witnesses of the bloody massacre for as long as we live!

Twenty-eight years have gone by, and we have persisted in our arduous journey of safeguarding the dignity of the deceased and seeking justice for the victims, a thorn-filled path of untold hardships and dangers, and repeated obstructions.

Twenty-eight years have gone by, and we have undergone great sorrows as the parents who lost their children in the incident grow old—many have become frail and sickly. Every time we bereaved family members get together, we tell one another to take good care, hoping we can meet again in the following year. Keenly aware that our days are numbered, we are still holding on to our shared hope: that in our lifetime, June Fourth will be officially recognized for what it was, the reputation of the innocent victims killed will be rehabilitated, and justice and peace will be restored in this great land of China, so that we can bring solace to our deceased loved ones!

Twenty-eight years have gone by, and 48 members of the Tiananmen Mothers, our group of the victims’ family members, have forever left us.

A special mention is in order for Ms. Xu Jue (徐珏), who recently passed away. She was a tough warrior in her battle against disease and an excellent geologist who devoted her whole life to her profession, but also a mother racked with sufferings and trauma. No lives in this world are separable from maternal love—the fountain of life. Maternal love is the most noble and selfless love there is, that knows no racial or national divides! There’s no doubt that losing a child in the June Fourth Massacre would hit a mother like a thunderbolt out of a clear sky!

Ms. Xu once recounted in an article the enormous pain of losing her son. He didn’t come home that night. Having no idea where he was, she ran from hospital to hospital looking for him and asking people about him. At the Fu Xing Hospital, she saw rows of corpses laid in the bicycle parking shed because all other places were filled to capacity. She scanned the names of the deceased posted on the door of the shed, and saw his name Wu Xiangdong (吴向东) on the very top of the list. She just collapsed onto the ground and was taken back to her home by a kind passerby. For the first few anniversaries of her son’s death, she would wander around Muxidi Bridge—where her son got killed—holding his pet cat and calling his name repeatedly in the hopes that the spirit of the dead could hear it. Animals can read human emotions. Even the cat in her arms seemed to know that they were searching for its young master and meowed nonstop.

The culprit responsible for this unparalleled massacre is a government bereft of humanity, a government bloated with unchecked power that scorns the constitution and the will of the people! Countless families have since been shrouded in the vastness of inescapable pain. We have identified 202 deceased victims who made up only a small number of those killed. Nobody knows the exact number of people who died in the June Fourth Massacre or their names.

In May 1995, some of the victims’ family members we found stepped up, and we wrote an open letter—collectively as a group for the first time—to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. The letter demanded that the NPC form a special investigation commission on June Fourth to independently and impartially investigate the entire incident so that the truth can be revealed; that the results of the investigation be publicized nationwide, including the names of those killed and the number of deaths; that, to demonstrate accountability for history and the dead, the NPC Standing Committee assign relevant governmental authorities to account each case to the bereaved family, in accordance with legal procedures. Ding Zilin (丁子霖), Zhang Xianling (张先玲), Li Xuewen (李雪文), Zhou Shuzhuang (周淑庄), and Xu Jue (徐珏) were among the letter’s 27 signers.

We as Chinese citizens are protected by the Constitution of China and have the right to petition about the loss of our loved ones in the June Fourth Massacre. We cannot accept the way the Chinese government characterized the students’ patriotic movement as a “counter-revolutionary riot” and deployed machine guns and tanks against unarmed students and citizens in the capital city Beijing under the pretext of putting down a riot. We also cannot accept how the Chinese government portrayed the June Fourth Massacre as a “political turmoil,” in order to unilaterally evade the responsibility for committing atrocities. The government’s false rhetoric and refusal to take responsibility can never rub out the bloodstains imprinted on the ground.

In 1997, we, the victims’ family members, decided upon deliberation to write to the NPC Standing Committee again about the June Fourth question and reiterate our appeals:

We believe that the June Fourth Massacre of 1989 is not government misconduct, but a crime committed by the government against its people. Therefore, the June Fourth Incident must be reappraised. And as for the handling of the remaining issues of June Fourth, it must conform to the procedures in our legal institutions, where cases are heard in accordance with the law. The process cannot be swayed by whims of individuals and must not tread the same ground as the so-called “rehabilitation and redress” that followed every political movement in the past.

We hereby reiterate the following:

One, the NPC Standing Committee should form a special June Fourth investigation commission to independently and impartially investigate the entire incident, and publicize the results to the people of our country, including the names of those killed and the number of deaths in the incident.

Two, the NPC Standing Committee should assign relevant governmental authorities to account for each case to the bereaved family members in accordance with legal procedures. The NPC Standing Committee should also draft and enact a special “Compensation Act for June Fourth Victims” to provide appropriate compensations for June Fourth victims and their family members in accordance with the law.

Three, the NPC Standing Committee should task the procuratorial organs with investigating the June Fourth Massacre and pursuing the legal responsibilities of those involved, in accordance with legal procedures.

Our appeals can be summed up in three words: truth, compensation, and accountability. We’ve adhered to the three demands for the past 28 years, and we will continue to do so. No matter where the pressure might come from, we will steadfastly pursue our fundamental aspirations and remain unswerving in our endeavors.

It has been 28 years since the June Fourth Massacre, yet all relevant information about it has remained forbidden in China, tightly sealed off. No one is allowed to mention it, let alone hold related activities to commemorate the dead. Those who dare are harshly suppressed by the  authorities.

Over the last 28 years, we family members of the victims have lived under perennial persecution and discrimination. Viewed as “others,” we have been subjected to the monitoring of the public security organs, year after year: during “sensitive” periods such as the “Two Congresses,” Qingming (Tomb-sweeping Day), and June Fourth, or whenever there are major state occasions, the authorities see us as “instability factors” and send guards to our homes, monitor us, force us to travel, or put us under house arrests, and so on. Even in the event of the death of a fellow family member of a victim, we are under the control of the public security organs and forbidden to hold memorial services. As a result of the suppression by the authorities, some of the bereaved families are afraid to stand up and seek justice for their lost loved ones even to this day.

We believe that the Chinese government bears indisputable responsibility for the June Fourth Massacre! The Chinese government must admit its crime of slaughtering innocent civilians, disclose the truth of the incident, take responsibility, and account for their actions to its people. The June Fourth Massacre is a tragic and traumatic event to not only us family members of the victims, but also the Chinese people as a whole—it has caused tremendous damage to the entire nation and people, with immeasurable impact internationally.

As long as the ruling party of China and the Chinese government refuse to reflect on the June Fourth Massacre, admit the crimes it committed against the nation and people, and deliver on the three demands of the Tiananmen Mothers, Chinese society will never achieve fairness and justice in their truest sense, and “civil rights” and “ruling the country by law” are but mere hollow words.

If the Communist Party of China and the Chinese government have the determination to restore orderliness and right wrongs, the audacity to shoulder responsibility, and the dedication to take upon themselves the creation of a prosperous future for the Chinese people, then they should demonstrate their courage and good faith by handling the June Fourth question justly, equitably, and in accordance with the law. And we look forward to that day!


尤维洁 You Weijie 郭丽英 Guo Liying 张彦秋 Zhang Yanqiu
吴丽虹 Wu Lihong 尹 敏 Yin Min 郝义传 Hao Yichuan
祝枝弟 Zhu Zhidi 叶向荣 Ye Xiangrong 丁子霖 Ding Zilin
张先玲 Zhang Xianling 王范地 Wang Fandi 周淑庄 Zhou Shuzhuang
李雪文 Li Xuewen 钱普泰 Qian Putai 吴定富 Wu Dingfu
宋秀玲 Song Xiuling 孙承康 Sun Chengkang 于 清 Yu Qing
孙 宁 Sun Ning 黄金平 Huang Jinping 孟淑英 Meng Shuying
袁淑敏 Yuan Shumin 王广明 Wang Guangming 刘梅花 Liu Meihua
谢京花 Xie Jinghua 马雪琴 Ma Xueqin 邝瑞荣 Kuang Ruirong
张树森 Zhang Shusen 杨大榕 Yang Dilong 贺田凤 He Tianfeng
刘秀臣 Liu Xiuchen 沈桂芳 Shen Guifang 谢京荣 Xie Jingrong
金贞玉 Jin Zhenyu 要福荣 Yao Furong 孟淑珍 Meng Shuzhen
邵秋风 Shao Qiufeng 谭汉凤 Tan Hanfeng 王文华 Wang Wenhua
陈 梅 Chen Mei 周 燕 Zhou Yan 李桂英 Li Guiying
徐宝艳 Xu Baoyan 狄孟奇 Di Mengqi 王 连 Wang Lian
管卫东 Guan Weidong 高 婕 Gao Jie 刘淑琴 Liu Shuqin
王双兰 Wang Shuanglan 孙珊萍 Sun Shanping 张振霞 Zhang Zhenxia
刘天媛 Liu Tianyuan 黄定英 Huang Dingying 熊 辉 Xiong Hui
张彩凤 Zhang Caifeng 何瑞田 He Ruitian 田维炎 Tian Weiyan
杨志玉 Yang Zhiyu 李显远 Li Xianyuan 王玉芹 Wang Yuqin
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
齐国香 Qi Guoxiang 韩国刚 Han Guogang 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 齐志英 Qi Zhiying 方桂珍 Fang Guizhen
雷 勇 Lei Yong 肖书兰 Xiao Shulan 葛桂荣 Ge Guirong
郑秀村 Zheng Xiucun 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
郭达显 Guo Daxian 王 琳 Wang Lin 刘 乾 Liu Gan
朱镜蓉 Zhu Jingrong 金亚喜 Kim Yaxi 周国林 Zhou Guolin
穆怀兰 Mu Huailan 王争强 Wang Zhengqiang 宁书平 Ning Shuping
曹云兰 Cao Yunlan 隋立松 Sui Lisong 林武云 Lin Wuyun
冯淑兰 Feng Shulan 付媛媛 Fu Yuanyuan 李春山 Li Chunshan
蒋艳琴 Jiang Yanqin 何凤亭 He Fengting 谭淑琴 Tan Shuqin
奚永顺 Xi Yongshun 肖宗友 Xiao Zongyou 乔秀兰 Qiao Xiulan
陆燕京 Lu Yanjing 李浩泉 Li Haoquan 赖运迪 Lai Yandi
周小姣 Zhou Xiaojiao 周运姣 Zhou Yunjiao 陈永邦 Chen Yongbang
刘永亮 Liu Yongliang 张景利 Zhang Jingli 孙海文 Sun Haiwen
王 海 Wang Hai 陆三宝 Lu Sambo 姚月英 Yao Yueying
任改莲 Ren Gailian 倪世殊 Ni Shishu 杨云龙 Yang Yunlong
崔林森 Cui Linsen 吴卫东 Wu Weidong 贾福泉 Jia Fuquan
王德义 Wang Deyi 朱玉仙 Zhu Yuxian  

(128 in total)

Upon the suggestion of the victims’ family members, we decided to include below the names of our deceased group members who had been signatories over the years to honor their unfulfilled wish:

吴学汉 Wu Xuehan 苏冰娴 Su Bingxian 姚瑞生 Yao Ruisheng
杨世钰 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 Tieqing 段宏炳 Duan Hongbing 刘春林 Liu Chunlin
张耀祖 Zhang Yaozu 李淑娟 Li Shujuan 杨银山 Yang Yinshan
王培靖 Wang Peijing 袁可志 Yuan Kezhi 潘木治 Pan Muzhi
萧昌宜 Xiao Changyi 轧伟林 Zha Weilin 刘建兰 Liu Jianlan
索秀女 Suo Xiunu 杨子明 Yang Ziming 程淑珍 Cheng Shuzhen
杜东旭 Du Dongxu 张桂荣 Zhang Guirong 赵廷杰 Zhao Tingjie
陆马生 Lu Masheng 蒋培坤 Jiang Peikun 任金宝 Ren Jinbao
张淑云 Zhang Shuyun 韩淑香 Han Shuxiang 石 峰 Shi Feng
王桂荣 Wang Guirong 田淑玲 Tian Shuling 孙淑芳 Sun Shufang
陈永朝 Chen Yongchao 孙恒尧 Sun Hengyao 徐 珏 Xu Jue

(48 in total)

Photos: May-June 1989, Beijing
Photos from HRIC archive and courtesy of Gail Butler, Libby Schmalz.

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