Tiananmen : Commemorating the 26th Anniversary of the June Fourth [1989] Tragedy

Chinese Leaders Cannot Escape Their Historical Responsibility for the June Fourth Massacre

Tiananmen Mothers

2015-06-03 01 Tiananmen1At 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 26th anniversary. Quoting Premier Li Keqiang’s March 2015 speech that Japan’s leaders today bear historical responsibility for Japan’s war of aggression in China in the 1930s: “the leaders of a state not only inherit their predecessors’ successes, but should also bear historical responsibility for their predecessors’ crimes,” the group asks: “By the same logic, shouldn’t today’s Chinese leaders bear responsibility for the series of crimes—manmade famine and slaughter—perpetrated in their own country by China’s leaders at the time: Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping?”

Chinese Leaders Cannot Escape Their Historical Responsibility for the June Fourth Massacre

Commemorating the 26th Anniversary of the June Fourth Tragedy

Tiananmen Mothers

A quarter century has passed since the June Fourth Massacre that took place in Beijing, China’s capital, near the end of the last century. But the truth of this tragedy has to this day not been laid bare to the world, and the massacre victims, who have still not received justice, cannot rest in peace. This is a disgrace for the whole Chinese people, and a disgrace for all of civilized humanity!

For two long decades since year 1995, we, as victims and families of victims of the June Fourth tragedy, have been faithfully writing letters to the Two Congresses and the Chinese leaders—stating that the 1989 Tiananmen bloodshed was not a misdeed by the government, but a crime it committed against its people. We ask for a public and just resolution to the June Fourth issue and seek discussion and dialogue with the government concerning the remaining June Fourth issues. Our three demands are: reinvestigate June Fourth and make public the names and number of the deceased; provide an explanation and compensation to the family of each of the victims in accordance with the law; and prosecute those criminally responsible for the June Fourth tragedy. In summary, we seek truth, compensation, and accountability.

However, our appeals have met with no reply.

2015-06-03 02 Tiananmen2In the last century, many innocent people’s lives were lost—80 million (some say 60 million) under the rule of the Communist Party of China alone. During the Land Reform and Suppress the Counterrevolutionaries campaigns in the 1950s, many people were beaten to death or murdered; the Great Leap Forward from the late 1950s to the early 1960s (which was in fact the Great Famine) starved numerous people to death; from the 1960s to the 1970s, the nationwide and decade-long turmoil of the Cultural Revolution resulted in the suicide and murder of many people. And near the end of the century, the bloodshed of June 4, 1989 occurred, when the fully-armed field army entered Beijing to carry out the most gruesome massacre of students and other residents, spraying them with machine guns, and crushing their own compatriots with tanks. Exactly how many people died? The number has been tightly concealed to this day.

After the June Fourth bloodshed, we stood up from where our loved ones fell—one by one, we gathered group by group, and gradually we organized ourselves as the Tiananmen Mothers group. In the endless night of darkness, we struggled, lost, struggled, and lost again. Yet we have never stopped, never rested. We did not despair or become discouraged at each failure, did not retreat or disperse. Instead, we continued forward, attracting more and more of those who share the same fate to come to our group.

Two thousand fourteen marked the critical 25th anniversary of June Fourth, when the Tiananmen Mothers as a whole suffered a new level of strict surveillance and suppression. Originally, we had planned that beginning with the 10th anniversary of June Fourth, victims’ families in Beijing would hold a collective memorial ceremony every five years. We would bring our deceased family members’ photos, gather in one of our homes, offer flowers, burn incense and light candles, play solemn music, and sprinkle wine to mourn our loved ones, so as to express our sorrows and comfort our loved ones’ souls.

In 1999, the 10th anniversary of June Fourth, we carried out our memorial ceremony under the tight surveillance of plainclothes police.

2015-06-03 03 Tiananmen3In 2004, the 15th anniversary, despite the wrongful treatment during the “T-shirt Incident” [1] in March, we still carried out our memorial ceremony under the watch of plainclothes police.

In 2009, the 20th anniversary, apart from Ding Zilin and her husband, who were under house arrest and could not participate, other victims’ families all held the memorial ceremony despite interference.

In 2014, the 25th anniversary of June Fourth, we had originally decided to hold the memorial ceremony in one of our homes on May 16. However, from Tomb-sweeping Day in April to around June 10, the majority of the Tiananmen Mothers in Beijing were visited by officials from the Municipal Public Security Bureau, State Security Brigade, district police sub-stations, and neighborhood committees to “have a talk.” Watch stations were set up outside their homes. And they were followed and watched when they went out. Therefore, the scheduled ceremony had to be abandoned. Even our annual statement on June Fourth could not be issued. In worse cases, some of our members’ homes were searched: Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau officials came to these members’ homes to have “talks” with them that lasted entire days, from morning until night, which ended only when they “voluntarily” surrendered all the documents stored on their personal computers. Ding Zilin and her husband were put under house arrest outside of Beijing from May 4 to June 5. They were, for the first time, not able to keep vigil with their son’s spirit (his ashes are kept in their Beijing home) on his birthday (June 2) and death anniversary (June 3), let alone hold a memorial ceremony at home.

Monitoring of the Tiananmen Mothers did not stop with the passing of the 25th anniversary of June Fourth. Instead, it has become an all-encompassing “new normal.” Previously, the authorities mainly tapped the landlines and mobile phones of some of our core members to keep track of our activities before taking actions. Since early this year, they went so far as installing a bugging device inside the homes of certain members of the Tiananmen Mothers. When members had discussions of matters we were all concerned about, they recorded our conversations—including the drafts of the documents we read out loud—and then intimidated them. The families of victims, filled with righteous anger, denounce such despicable practices

They killed our family members without any explanation; when we demand justice—there is none. There is only persecution and monitoring to shut our mouths, and this is getting worse and worse.

2015-06-03 04 Tiananmen4In March 2015, Premier Li Keqiang said at the Two Congresses’ press conference, “the leaders of a state not only inherit their predecessors’ successes, but should also bear historical responsibility for their predecessors’ crimes.” He was referring to the Japanese military imperialists’ war of aggression against China, and saying that today’s leaders of the Japanese government should bear historical responsibility for the catastrophe their predecessors created in China. By the same logic, shouldn’t today’s Chinese leaders bear responsibility for the series of crimes—manmade famine and slaughter—perpetrated in their own country by China’s leaders at the time: Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping? This is a certainty without a doubt and not easily changed. This is what “upholding a correct view of history, using history as a mirror [to look to the future]” means. The people will wait and see.

[The leaders] cannot impose a forced amnesia: remember whatever is beneficial to them and forget whatever is damaging to them. From June Fourth to now, each leadership [regime] in China has adopted selective forgetting about June Fourth. We have to unequivocally tell our leaders today that, relying on coerced selective forgetting can only succeed temporarily, and people’s silence cannot sustain over the long term. Debts must always be paid, and can neither be evaded nor reneged on.

The Chinese government’s concealment and deception about June Fourth since 1989 has rendered the whole society an empty shell, where every corner of society is shrouded in pervasive gloom, apathy, despair, and depravity, without fairness, justice, integrity, shame, reverence, remorse, tolerance, responsibility, compassion, or love. Post-June Fourth youth, in particular, cannot find anything about June Fourth in books, magazines, or online media. They cannot find anything about June Fourth victims, their families, or the Tiananmen Mothers. Even the entire history of June Fourth has become a blank for them. Whose fault is this?

Don’t forget what year this is—why people commemorate the 70th anniversary of the world’s victory against fascism, why we commemorate the 70th anniversary of China’s victory in the War of Resistance against Japan, why Taiwan commemorates the “228 ” suppression [of Taiwanese intellectuals], and why Korea commemorates the Gwangju Massacre each year. We ask: when, which day, which year will China also commemorate the tragic deaths of those innocents in the Land Reform and Suppress the Counterrevolutionaries campaigns, the ordinary people who starved to death during the Great Famine, the Chinese citizens tortured and persecuted to death during the ten years of the Cultural Revolution, and the victims of the June Fourth Massacre? People are all united in this belief and abide by this logic!


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
徐 珏 Xu Jue
丁子霖 Ding Zilin
蒋培坤 Jiang Peikun
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 Darong
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
田淑玲 Tian Shuling
邵秋风 Shao Qiufeng
王桂荣 Wang Guirong
谭汉凤 Tan Hanfeng
孙恒尧 Sun Hengyao
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
任金宝 Ren Jinbao
田维炎 Tian Weiyan
杨志玉 Yang Zhiyu
李显远 Li Xianyuan
王玉芹 Wang Yuqin
韩淑香 Han Shuxiang
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
石 峰 Shi Feng
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 Qian
朱镜蓉 Zhu Jingrong
金亚喜 Jin 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
孙淑芳 Sun Shufang
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 Yundi
周小姣 Zhou Xiaojiao
周运姣 Zhou Yunjiao
陈永朝 Chen Yongchao
陈永邦 Chen Yongbang
刘永亮 LiuYongliang
张景利 Zhang Jingli
孙海文 Sun Haiwen
王海林 Wang Hailin
陆三宝 Lu Sanbao

As suggested by members of victims’ families, the names of our deceased group members who have been signatories over the years are also listed below 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 Diqing
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 Ya Weilin
刘建兰 Liu Jianlan
索秀女 Suo Xiunü
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

Written by Ding Zilin and Jiang Peikun based on discussion among members of

Tiananmen Mothers



[1] In March 2004, Ding Zilin and two other members of the Tiananmen Mothers were detained and held for several days for attempting to bring into China T-shirts printed with the logo of “1989-2004: Tiananmen Mothers.”

* HRIC, June 1, 2015.

* Translation by Human Rights in China.