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Statement of Tiananmen mothers on the 20th Anniversary

May 30, 2009

Human Right in China (HRIC)
May 27, 2009

Tiananmen Mothers -- Public Statement on the 20th
Anniversary of the June Fourth Massacre

This year is the 20th anniversary of the June
Fourth Massacre. As a group of Chinese citizens
who have lost loved ones in this tragedy, and
with profound grief buried in our hearts, we are
releasing the following statement to our
countrymen at home and abroad, and to all
righteous people of good conscience worldwide:

1. Between June 3 and June 4, 1989, a large-scale
massacre of peaceful demonstrators and city
residents, ordered by the government and carried
out by the army, took place in China’s capital,
Beijing. Thousands of civilians were injured and
lost their lives in the bloodbath. Chiefly
responsible for this bloody tragedy are: former
Chairman of the Central Military Commission of
the Communist Party of China (CPC), Deng
Xiaoping; former Premier of the People’s Republic
of China, Li Peng; former President of the
People’s Republic of China, Yang Shangkun; former
Mayor of Beijing, Chen Xitong; and former Beijing
Municipal Party Committee Secretary, Li Ximing.
Some of them have already passed away. Some of
them have stepped down. But Li Peng, who is still
alive, took part in decision-making on the
highest level that led to this massacre and was,
moreover, directly in charge of carrying it out.
It was the martial law that Li Peng signed as the
country’s Premier that directly led to the
large-scale massacre of the capital’s peaceful
residents by the special martial law emergency troops.

As everyone knows, there was no armed rebellion
or rioting in the Beijing district between April
and June 1989, and yet the government mobilized
several hundred thousand troops to enter the city
and massacre peaceful demonstrators and
residents—an action that was clearly an illegal
use of the country’s armed forces. Based on the
provisions against violation of the citizens’
personal freedoms in the Constitution of the
People’s Republic of China; based on the
fundamental human rights, the dignity and worth
of the human person reaffirmed by the Charter of
the United Nations; and in accordance with the
international human rights standards confirmed by
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights, and other United Nations conventions, we
believe that this military action taken by the
government authorities not only severely violates
our nation’s constitution and the international
commitments it has made as a sovereign state to
safeguard humanity, but that its persistent
contempt for human rights and civil liberties
constitutes an outrage against humanity.

In the recently published memoir based on
audiotapes recorded by the former General
Secretary of the CPC, Zhao Ziyang, Prisoner of
the State: The Secret Journal of Premier Zhao
Ziyang, he says that he “didn’t want to be a
General Secretary who opens fire on the people.”
This shows that at the time Zhao differed in
opinion from Deng and Li on how to handle the
student movement, on whether to pursue a peaceful
or a military solution. In the end, Zhao went down in defeat.

Nowadays, different people from various levels of
society have all kinds of interpretations of this
tragedy. But the basic facts of what happened at
that time have not changed. The nature of this
tragedy has not changed either. It remains a
bloody massacre of peaceful civilians.

2. As a community of victims of the June Fourth
tragedy, we have devoted all our energy and
spared no effort during the past twenty years to,
one by one, look for every single person who died
in the massacre. As of this day, we have found
195 people. We have already publicly released
lists of names four times: 96 individuals in
1994, 155 individuals in 1999, 185 individuals in
2004, 195 individuals in 2009. The number of
people we have uncovered thus far cannot be
either the majority or the total number of
victims. To those victims whom we have not yet
found, we offer our heartfelt apologies and
remorse. We are especially troubled knowing that
for twenty years their relatives have been
suffering in torment, pain, and solitude, unable
to receive humanitarian care and assistance from
people at home and from overseas.

We hereby earnestly appeal to all those who have
information about the tragedy: Please, provide us
with clues about the victims, even if they be
just the slightest traces of clues. Do not let a
temporary oversight result in a lifetime of regret.

3. It has been almost twenty years since the June
Fourth Massacre. During the first few years
following the massacre, Secretary General of the
CPC Jiang Zemin categorically declared: “If we
had not taken absolute measures at the time, we
would not have the stability we enjoy today. A
bad thing has turned out to be good.” It is now
more than ten years later, and today’s top
leaders have stopped mentioning the words "June
Fourth," classifying "June Fourth" as a taboo
topic. That is to say, today’s China is
monopolized by a social stratum born of the
conspiracy between capital and power-based
privilege. They control all the national
resources and allocate the entire nation’s
opportunities and lifelines. They only care for
profit, and categorically refuse to discuss "June
Fourth." Through twenty years of cover-up and
deceit, the government authorities have turned
the entire society into an exquisitely beautiful
empty shell filled with ostentation,
indifference, instant gratification, and
depravity, and devoid of fairness, justice,
honesty, shame, reverence, remorse, tolerance,
responsibility, compassion, and affection . . .
All this has distorted the history of June Fourth
beyond recognition, to the point that it has become a blank.

There is only one core matter the CPC cares to
uphold, and that is its determination not to lose
absolute power. They can confidently talk about
human rights, freedom, democracy, and legal
institutions, but, like illusionists, they are
only switching bait, while taking undeserved
credit. As for the western democratic system,
namely the parliamentary democracy and
multi-party competition adopted by most states,
they are not prepared to make even the smallest
concession. They will especially never let the
political opposition around them challenge the
power of the Communist Party. For the past twenty
years, Chinese leaders, from the second
generation to the third and now to the fourth,
have grown increasingly confident in this solid
"hidden rule," and more unshakable than ever. The
severe purge of the signers of Charter 08, issued
by civil society last year, is but a loathsome example.

Over the past twenty years, the June Fourth
Incident has become the watershed of China’s
contemporary history and politics. Will control
be loosened or tightened? The people are waiting to see.

4. On the basis of the above considerations, we
have repeatedly sent letters to the National
People’s Congress in the course of the past ten
and some years to express the following views:

The bloody 1989 Tiananmen tragedy was not a
result of the government’s inappropriate action,
but the government’s crime against the people.
Consequently, the June Fourth Incident must be
re-evaluated. The issue of the June Fourth legacy
cannot be handled according to the will of
individual leaders, regardless of who they may
be, and it cannot be handled in the manner of the
so-called "rehabilitations" and "exonerations"
that followed each successive political movement in the past.

To this end, we are reiterating the following three demands:

1. That the Standing Committee of the National
People’s Congress form a dedicated June Fourth
investigation committee and conduct an
independent and fair investigation on the entire
incident, and that it furthermore make public the
results of the investigation to the entire
nation, including the names and numbers of those who died in the incident;

2. That the Standing Committee of the National
People’s Congress instruct the departments in
charge to issue individual explanations to the
relatives of each deceased person in accordance
with the statutory procedures; the Standing
Committee of the National People’s Congress
should also draft and adopt a “June Fourth
Incident Victim Compensation Law” and give the
victims and their relatives appropriate
compensation in accordance with the law;

3. That the Standing Committee of the National
People’s Congress order the Procuratorial Bureau
to file the case and investigate the June Fourth
tragedy, and to affix legal responsibility and
prosecute those responsible in accordance with the statutory procedures.

The above can be summarized in three words:
Truth, Compensation, Accountability. The reason
we did not mention “rehabilitation” of June
Fourth victims in our three demands is because as
a citizen group, we have learned through painful
experience: we want justice for the dead, but we
do not beg those in power. The so-called
“rehabilitation” and “exoneration” used by the
Communist authorities in the past are merely a
throwback to the methods of the imperial era. For
several decades the CPC has repeatedly carried
out political campaigns and purges, followed by
"rehabilitation" and "exoneration," managing to
get those who had been "rehabilitated" to later
even thank the "brilliant" and “mighty” CPC, as
though they were bowing to the imperial throne.
For several decades, the common people have been
paying an enormous price for this kind of
hypocrisy of the authorities and for their own
ignorance. How can we let this type of history go
on! We have come to the realization that we must
rely on ourselves to fight for and protect the
rights and dignity that belong to us, as well as
for the rights and dignity of our dead relatives.
We cannot depend on the charity of others.

5. For the fair and reasonable solution of the
June Fourth issue, we have always believed that
we must uphold the principles of peace and
rationality and follow the tracks of democracy
and rule of law. The National People’s Congress
should follow legal procedures and make a special
motion to hand the June Fourth issue to the
General Assembly for discussion and deliberation,
and come to a decision on matters concerned.
Using one sentence to summarize this position:
Use legal means to resolve political problems. We
believe that using legislation and judicial
procedures is the only way to solve the issue of
June Fourth. However, this matter cannot be resolved in a day.

To break the impasse in resolving the June Fourth
Incident, and so that the matter can develop
positively and smoothly, we suggested a guideline
in 2006: Tackle simple problems first, then
gradually move on to harder questions. Following
this guideline, the issues on which consensus
cannot be reached easily because of serious
differences of opinion can be set aside
temporarily, and the issues involving the basic
rights of the victims and their personal
interests be resolved first. These issues
include: 1) removing all monitoring of and
personal restrictions imposed on the "June
Fourth" victims and their families; 2) allowing
families of the dead to openly mourn their loved
ones; 3) ending interceptions and seizures of
domestic and international humanitarian aid
donations, and returning all the aid money that
has been frozen; 4) having government departments
in charge, in the spirit of humanitarianism, help
the victims who are living in straitened
circumstances find employment and guarantee them
a basic livelihood, without attaching any
political conditions to the assistance; 5)
eliminating political discrimination against the
disabled victims of "June Fourth" and treating
them the same as all other disabled individuals
in matters such as communal participation, social
safeguards, etc. The settlement of the
aforementioned issues ultimately depends on the
soundness of the entire legal process.

6. Since 1997, we have been imploring the
Standing Committee of the National People’s
Congress to change its attitude of ignoring
public opinion and turning a deaf ear to popular
demand, and to engage in a direct, sincere
dialogue about the problems of the June Fourth
victims with their families. On the 10th
anniversary of June Fourth, we formed the “June
Fourth Victims Dialogue Group” and put forth an
appeal for a just and impartial resolution of the
June Fourth issue by way of negotiation and
dialogue based on democratic principles and rule
of law. In 2006, we put forth that this should be
an open dialogue among equals, without
preconditions, and that we do not endorse the
so-called "administrative resolutions" and
private settlements that violate the principles
of the rule of law. In 2008, we specifically
suggested to the government to establish a
communication mechanism. In an open letter titled
"An Appeal from the Tiananmen Mothers to the
Government: Set a Timetable for Dialogue on the
June Fourth Massacre," we explicitly pointed out:

The world has entered the age of dialogue, yet
mainland China remains behind, stagnant, in the
age of resistance. This embarrassing and
intolerable situation, which no one is willing to
face, must end as soon as possible. We note that
the Chinese government advocates the use of
dialogue to solve differences and disputes in
international affairs. We therefore have even
stronger ground for our request that the
government solve domestic differences and
disputes through a similar method. If China, with
its historical tradition of despotic rule, can
strive to replace hostility with dialogue, it
would benefit the entire nation and be a blessing
to all people. As this country enters into more
dialogue, it will manifest more civility and
legal order and less ignorance and despotism.
Dialogue should not lead society into opposition
and hatred, but rather, into tolerance and
reconciliation. Using dialogue to solve the June
Fourth issue is the only way to achieve social reconciliation.

We believe that the time for dialogue is
gradually ripening and that the government
leaders should facilitate the dialogue about the
June Fourth Incident by tolerantly keeping an
open mind and daring to accept the consequences.

7. In the course of the past twenty years, the
manner in which western democratic countries
dealt with China’s June Fourth Massacre was at
first sanctions and boycott, but later became
“private” negotiations with Chinese leaders.
During the most recent few years, as China’s
economy boomed and its role on the international
stage grew in importance, many countries,
especially some dominant nations, have been
seeking China’s support in dealing with important
global issues, including its support in
extricating themselves from the current financial
crisis. Under these circumstances, there have
also been subtle shifts in their attitude towards the June Fourth Incident.

During the past twenty years, we have not given
up a single opportunity, despite facing the
dangers of intimidation and oppression by the
authorities, to turn to the overseas media
without hesitation and keep talking, keep
writing, to do all we can to reveal the truth
about the June Fourth Massacre to the world, to
appeal to the international community to show
concern for the victims of the tragedy and their
relatives, and to take practical action to
pressure the Chinese government into fulfilling
[its commitment] to universal human values. This
type of advocacy has had positive effects in the past.

Still, the past 20 years have been very long and
challenging for those of us who have suffered the
loss of loved ones. As the time went on and
seasons gradually changed, things remain but
people are no longer the same. What was once the
truth that couldn’t be clearer has become so
blurred as to be almost turned upside down.
Utilitarianism and pragmatism have replaced the
idealism and passion of former days. China is not
getting closer to freedom, democracy, and human
rights, but rather drifting farther away. We
deeply regret that the Chinese people have once
again missed a historical opportunity for
peaceful transformation in the course towards
democracy. Why is China still bitterly struggling in this age-old morass?
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