Tiananmen Mothers: Truth and Justice for the June 4 Massacre
The students asked for freedom and democracy, an end to corruption, a fair and equitable dialogue between the people and the government. Their repression violated the Constitution and founding principal of the People's Republic. The regime must respond for what has happened, and the victims must be compensated.
Beijing (AsiaNews) - "If the government had conscientiously listened to the opinions of the people, instead of ending the student movement in such a cruel and barbaric manner, the process of civilizing the Chinese society would have accelerated its pace to integrate with the civilized society of the world, and the corruption in Chinese officialdom would not have been so rampant."
31 years after the events in Tiananmen, when thousands of students and citizens were massacred for asking for freedom and democracy in the country, the victims' mothers and relatives ask the government to make public the information on what happened. For them, the perpetrators of the massacre must be held responsible under the law for their actions. Yesterday, under the gaze of some forty policemen, some of them went to the Wan'an cemetery in Beijing to honor the memory of the fallen. Below is the full text of their open letter.
This year, 2020, is the 31st anniversary of the June Fourth massacre that took place in Beijing, China, in 1989. We will not forget the tragedy. That year, in peacetime, the Chinese government mobilized our nation’s military force—a force flaunted as "people's soldiers"—and deployed tanks and armored vehicles on Chang'an Avenue. On their way to Tiananmen Square, the troops opened fire randomly, ignoring crowds that lined the streets. They fired even at the students at Liubukou in Xidan who had retreated from Tiananmen Square. The troops first sprayed poisonous gas containing nerve-numbing agents to render people unconscious and then moved the tanks to crush the crowds, in bloody scenes of unparalleled brutality and inhumanity.
In a movement that had begun in April, around the time of the death of Hu Yaobang, the former General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, to the bloody crackdown on June 4, the students were always peaceful and rational in their petition for dialogue with the government. Outside the capital, students in many provinces and cities across the country also came forward to express their solidarity with the students in Beijing. This was the most magnificent and unprecedented student movement in modern Chinese history.
The students raised these demands: End to corruption and bureaucratic turpitude, democracy and freedom, official asset transparency, the right to speak freely, and a fair and equitable dialogue between the people and the government. The demands found great resonance throughout the society. Looking back, from 1979 to 1989, in the ten years of Reform and Opening-up policies that transformed the national economy from a planned economy to a market economy, the real beneficiaries of the reform were the extreme few who held power in their hands. This social injustice had caused dissatisfaction among the people. As a result, citizens from all walks of life participated in the marches, raised questions about people's livelihood, demanded citizens’ right to know, and made suggestions about people's livelihood. They proposed speeding up political reform, allowing freedom of the press and, grasping the true meaning of government, returning governance to the people. This was a moment of great awakening that brought forth questions and thoughts among the people about the social problems that had accumulated in the ten-year ravage of the Cultural Revolution.
It was unbelievable that the government completely ignored the voices and opinions of the people: it avoided the core substance and dwelled only on the trivial by only addressing the governance issue. It demanded the students withdraw from Tiananmen Square unconditionally. The government's demand was rejected by the students because they worried that, following their unconditional withdrawal, the government would come after them to settle scores. And the citizens of Beijing bore witness to the entire course of the 1989 student movement and the June Fourth massacre.
Our children and loved ones were killed in the June Fourth massacre. For 31 years, every family of the victims has lived in the mid of this suffering and life’s arduousness. We, as citizens of this country and relatives of the victims, have every reason to question the Chinese ruling party and the Chinese government. The government bears unavoidable responsibility for the harm done to all the citizens through the bloody tragedy that year. Legally, you owe the people accountability, and morally, you owe the people an apology. The specific reasons are as follows:
Reason One. The Communist Party of China established a new China in 1949, overthrowing the old system and establishing a new system. Article 5 of the Founding Program (the Common Program of the Chinese People ’s Political Consultative Conference) stipulates that the people of the People ’s Republic of China have the rights to freedom of thought, speech, publication, assembly, association, communication, person, residence, migration, religious belief, and demonstrations. Article 35 of the Constitution of the People ’s Republic of China also clearly provides the same: Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, publication, assembly, association, procession, and demonstration. If the Chinese ruling Party and the Chinese government have not forgotten their original aspiration, they should abide by and implement the Founding Program and Constitution established in the early days of the founding of the country. However, in its highly centralized rule, the CPC has long forgotten the sacred rights conferred to citizens by the Constitution. We believe that the student movement of that year did not exceed the scope permitted by the law. If the government had conscientiously listened to the opinions of the people, instead of ending the student movement in such a cruel and barbaric manner, the process of civilizing the Chinese society would have accelerated its pace to integrate with the civilized society of the world, and the corruption in Chinese officialdom would not have been so rampant.
Reason Two. The politics of "the Elders" was most vividly manifested in their decision on the June Fourth tragedy. The government's functional departments were in chaos. The government of a civilized society resolves social contradictions in accordance with the law, and resolving social contradictions is the daily responsibility of a government. However, what we saw was the total disregard of the law by those who were enthroned as the older generation of proletariat revolutionaries, who ignored the lives of the people and the existence of government functions. Even though those old revolutionaries had already stepped down and yielded their power, they were allowed to wield the power of life and death of the people at will, and brand citizens as "counter-revolutionary rioters" and elements "endangering state power" at will, according to the needs of the ruling class.
Reason Three. We have to ask the Chinese ruling party and the Chinese government: Which civilized Chinese law expressly confers the government the right to use state military force to kill, at will, students and civilians in peaceful demonstrations? The Constitution provides that state military power is exercised by authorization by the National People’s Congress. At that time, the students repeatedly called for a special meeting of the Standing Committee of the People’s Congress to vote on the use of the army to carry out the crackdown. The government ignored the students’ appeals. We want to know exactly where and when the counterrevolutionary riots occurred? Where is the evidence? Who commanded the riots? What is the truth?
Reason Four. To measure the robustness of a civil society, the level of people’s happiness index, the level of civilization, and the freedom of speech are among the most important and necessary conditions. A large nation that allows only one voice from the authorities and not the diverse voices of the people, and that is blind to the people's well-intentioned criticism and supervision of the government's inadequacies will only produce this result: the unlimited expansion of the authority of those wielding hefty power, who lord over the people from the top and unchecked by the law, with the so-called equality before the law serving as decoration for them.
Over the past 31 years, we have repeatedly called for a legal resolution to a political problem, through fair and equitable dialogues with the government in accordance with the law. The government has remained silent on the June Fourth massacre, without demonstrating the slightest trace of remorse. With the passage of time, 60 people among our group of victims’ families have passed away. Time can erase our lives, but our group ’s resolve in the pursuit of fairness and justice will not alter. We continue to adhere to our three demands: truth, compensation, and accountability—in order to obtain justice from the government for all the victims of the June Fourth tragedy. The dignity of every single life may not be stripped away and trampled on arbitrarily by power. They are our loved ones and your compatriots.