Thirty years after the Tiananmen massacre, mothers and activists still monitored

The relatives of those killed and dissidents are placed under close monitoring and given forced holidays, and are banned from marking the anniversary. On the night of 3 and 4 June 1989, the Chinese army killed between 300 and 2,000 young students and workers.

Beijing (AsiaNews/RFA) – Thirty years after the Tiananmen massacre, the mothers and relatives of the victims, along with human rights activists, are still subject to strict controls, forced holidays and are not allowed to commemorate the event.

On the night of 3 and 4 June 1989, China’s so-called People’s Liberation Army swept through Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, which had been occupied by thousands of students in a sit-in for democracy and against corruption.

The movement, which also included workers, began in April 1989 with the funeral of Hu Yaobang, which drew at least one million people in Beijing alone. Similar gatherings also took place in other cities, such as Guangzhou, Shanghai, Chengdu . . . Hu had been ousted from the Party because of his support for reforms.

According to independent estimates, between 300 to 2,000 people died that night, mowed down by gunfire or crushed by tanks.

For China’s Communist Party, the students’ and workers’ movement was "counter-revolutionary". The relatives of the victims of the massacre, organised as the ‘Tiananmen Mothers, continue to demand that their children be considered "patriots" and that those who ordered the massacre be brought to justice.

Every year, on the anniversary of the massacre, the Party censors the past and isolates those who would like to remember.

Zhang Xianling, a member of the Tiananmen Mothers, says that security measures against her began last week, and that her phone is monitored. She is followed constantly everywhere she goes and is prevented from talking to journalists. Zhang lost her 19-year-old son in the massacre.

Like Zhang, all the other members of the association are subject to monitoring, house arrest and censorship.

The group wrote at least 20 times to the National People's Congress (China’s parliament) to demand justice, but received no reply.

Other dissidents and activists have endured the same fate. Hu Jia, the 2008 Sakharov Prize, is already certain that, like every year, he will have a forced vacation. "I will be forced to leave Beijing at some point between 26 May and 28 May. I will be placed under surveillance somewhere else."