In an open letter to China’s legislature and political advisory body to demand a just resolution of the June Fourth crackdown on the Democracy Movement of 1989, the Tiananmen Mothers stress that “the only feasible way to solve the June Fourth issue is through legislative and judicial procedures.”
In addition, the group addresses China’s new leader Xi Jinping’s notion of “man”—a show of courage to defend the ruling party. In an internal talk to Party officials during his December 2012 tour of Shenzhen, Xi, while projecting a reformist image, stressed the importance of ideological allegiance. Xi was quoted as saying that on the verge of the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, within the Soviet Communist Party, “there was not one single person man enough to come out to resist.”
In their letter, the Tiananmen Mothers said that the real men in China in 1989 were not those who supported the military crackdown—but Zhao Ziyang, the late premier who opposed the suppression of protestors, as well as the many “sons and daughters of China … who came forth one after another to take a stand to fight for their ideals, but were repeatedly broken down and blotted out ….”
Below is the full text of the open letter in English, translated by Human Rights in China.
This is a Wish—May It Not Turn into Despair Again:
An Open Letter to the 12th Session of the National People’s Congress and
Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference
The Tiananmen Mothers
February 28, 2013
[English Translation by Human Rights in China]
Deputies to the National People’s Congress and Members of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference:
It has been almost 24 years since the earthshaking June Fourth Massacre. The Fourth Generation Leadership has already ushered in the Fifth Generation, headed by Xi Jinping. In a few days, the National People's Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) will convene a new session, and elect a new president of the Peoples’ Republic of China and new chairs of the NPC Standing Committee and of the CPPCC.
But for the past 23 years, the issue of June Fourth 1989—which has been raised every year and has drawn attention from the international community—has unfortunately been suppressed by our leaders generation after generation, who have all refused to account for the incident publicly.
Today, as a new generation of leaders takes office, we, the Tiananmen Mothers, as relatives of the victims of the June Fourth tragedy, ask once again that our new leaders make up for the mistakes of past leaders, and deal with the issue in a courageous way that will endure the test of time.
This is our wish—may it not turn into despair again.
On the eve of the Two Congresses, we urge the deputies of the NPC and members of the CPPCC to focus on and discuss this matter, and make advancing a just solution to the June Fourth issue your bounden duty.
In December of last year, in a talk during his tour of Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Xi Jinping raised these questions: "Why did the Soviet Union disintegrate? Why did the Soviet Communist Party fall from power?” He viewed the wavering of ideals and convictions among the people to be an important reason, and, as a result, the Soviet Union lost the military and the tools for maintaining a dictatorship. At the very end, with just one quiet sentence, Gorbachev announced the dissolution of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In such a huge party, Xi Jinping said, "there was not one single person man enough to come out to resist."
In this talk, he did not mention June Fourth, but the “June Fourth” issue was ever present. On the one hand is China’s June Fourth, on the other is the Soviet Union's “8-19” [August 19, 1991, the day of mass civil resistance in Moscow that is considered to have contributed to the dissolution of the Soviet Union]. The two major historical events occurred within only two years, but the outcomes were completely different. The question before China’s leaders is: Ultimately, was the June Fourth crackdown an experience? Or a lesson? It is impossible that they have not thought about this question—a question that is even harder for us, the victims of the June Fourth tragedy, to forget. In fact, the great changes that occurred in the Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe in those years took the June Fourth massacre as a warning: that a regime that relies on machine guns and tanks is not sustainable.
Then, who were the men in China that year? They were definitely not those who mobilized the armed forces to implement the bloody crackdown ordered by Deng Xiaoping and Li Peng. Rather, it was Zhao Ziyang, who opposed the mobilization of troops by Deng Xiaoping and Li Peng to suppress protestors, and, for that, was confined by Deng Xiaoping, Li Peng, and their successors for fifteen full years—during which he never acquiesced or engaged in self-criticism—until he died quietly. It was Wang Weiping, a recent graduate from Peking University’s Health and Science Center, who repeatedly rescued the wounded who were left in piles at the site of the June Fourth massacre, and who was later killed by a bullet in her neck. It was Liu Fenggeng, a Beijing worker who repeatedly carried the wounded to the hospital on a wooden plank, and who was himself later carried by others into the hospital as he himself stopped breathing. It was Fang Zheng, a graduate of Beijing Sport University whose legs were crushed by an army tank as he was trying to rescue his fallen comrade, who later struggled to survive and was ultimately forced out of the country. These are China’s real men. In the June Fourth tragedy, those individuals are inspiring and tragic, and they were unafraid of death—but there were so many more of them! These sons and daughters of China, confident in their actions, not timid, who came forth one after another to take a stand to fight for their ideals, but were repeatedly broken down and blotted out, and were ultimately disappeared into the vast darkness.
In the past half century, there have been countless numbers of outstanding people—young ones and those in the prime of life—men and women, who silently lay down in pools of blood and bade farewell to the land that raised and nurtured them. These scenes after scenes of deaths and bloodstain have cast a shadow on the Chinese people that will never disappear. Can it be that all the achievements of the Communist Party of China must come at the price of the lives of millions?
In the Chinese political arena, there have always been those in power who are too conceited and who always believe: if you have guns, artillery, and tanks, you will not be overthrown. They always believe: if you have power, influence, and money, you will never be overthrown. They never believe: everyone possesses a sense of fairness and reason, and a regime rises when it gains the will of the people, and falls when it loses it. They will also never believe: When you lose legitimacy, it’s all over.
It has been almost 24 years since June Fourth 1989. People have calmed down to consider the lessons they learned from their painful experience; their thinking has become more probing and rational. Today, China must not hesitate to implement political reform; but this is by no means to continue political reform under the one-party dictatorship. Otherwise, China will turn back three decades to the time before Reform and Opening up. In order to undertake reform, the issue of June Fourth must be solved, as it is at the heart of reform. Recalling the 50-day long Tiananmen Democracy Movement, there were two resounding slogans on the Square, one was “We Want Freedom, We Want Democracy," and the other was "Oppose Profiteering! Oppose Corruption!" Today, not only have the two problems not been solved, but they have worsened to the utmost. Therefore, in order to implement political reform, it is necessary to go in the same direction as the Tiananmen Democracy Movement and firmly grasp and solve these two main issues of our time. Other than that, China has nowhere to go.
Solving the June Fourth problem depends on the outcome of repeated contests among the various political factions and various political forces at home and abroad, and on a fundamental consensus reached on the various political demands between the ruling and opposition parties. However, that consensus does not yet exist. It has to depend on the dialogue and negotiation between the people and the government.
As victims of June Fourth and the Tiananmen Mothers, we are filled with confidence and have sufficient patience because even when our generation passes away there will still be the next generation. Our three demands remain the same:
The three demands above can be summarized in these three words: Truth, compensation, accountability.
We have also declared many times: the problems left behind by the June Fourth incident must be dealt with by upholding the principles of peace and reason, and in a democratic and legal way. It cannot be handled according to the will of any party or individual, and not in the manner of “rehabilitations and exonerations” which were carried out by the government unilaterally in the wake of previous political movements. We realize that we ourselves should fight for and defend our own rights and dignity, including the rights and dignity of our dead relatives, and should not rely on others’ charity. To this end, we are asking the National People's Congress to, in accordance with the law, to make a special motion to introduce the June Fourth issue to the General Assembly for discussion and deliberation, and come to a decision in an effort to fairly solve the June Fourth issue. This proposal can be summed up as a" legal solution to a political issue.” We believe that, the only feasible way to solve the June Fourth issue is through legislative and judicial procedures.
On the eve of the convening of the National People's Congress and the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, we once again raise the June Fourth issue, and reiterate our position and demands. We believe that the circumstances are more powerful than people’s will. Deputies and members—please understand that! Please think and think again!
|丁子霖 Ding Zilin||张先玲 Zhang Xianling||周淑庄 Zhou Shuzhuang|
|李雪文 Li Xuewen||徐 珏 Xu Jue||尹 敏 Yin Min|
|杜东旭 Du Dongxu||宋秀玲 Song Xiuling||于 清 Yu Qing|
|郭丽英 Guo Liying||蒋培坤 Jiang Peikun||王范地 Wang Fandi|
|赵廷杰 Zhao Tingjie||吴定富 Wu Dingfu||钱普泰 Qian Putai|
|孙承康 Sun Chengkang||尤维洁 You Weijie||黄金平 Huang Jinping|
|贺田凤 He Tianfeng||孟淑英 Meng Shuying||袁淑敏 Yuan Shumin|
|刘梅花 Liu Meihua||谢京花 Xie Jinghua||马雪琴 Ma Xueqin|
|邝瑞荣 Kuang Ruirong||张艳秋 Zhang Yanqiu||张树森 Zhang Shusen|
|杨大榕 Yang Darong||刘秀臣 Liu Xiuchen||沈桂芳 Shen Guifang|
|谢京荣 Xie Jingrong||孙 宁 Sun Ning||王文华 Wang Wenhua|
|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||陈 梅 Chen Mei|
|周 燕 Zhou Yan||李桂英 Li Guiying||徐宝艳 Xu Baoyan|
|狄孟奇 Di Mengqi||管卫东 Guan Weidong||高 婕 Gao Jie|
|刘淑琴 Liu Shuqin||王双兰 Wang Shuanglan||张振霞 Zhang Zhenxie|
|祝枝弟 Zhu Zhidi||刘天媛 Liu Tianyuan||黄定英 Huang Dingying|
|何瑞田 He Ruitian||程淑珍 Cheng Shuzhen||郝义传 Hao Yichuan|
|任金宝 Ren Jinbao||田维炎 Tian Weiyan||杨志玉 Yang Zhiyu|
|齐国香 Qi Guoxiang||李显远 Li Xianyuan||张彩凤 Zhang Caifeng|
|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 Yingcai||刘仁安 Liu Ren’an||熊 辉 Xiong Hui|
|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||陆马生 Lu Masheng||齐志英 Qi Zhiying|
|方桂珍 Fang Guizhen||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|
|王 琳 Wang Lin||刘 乾 Liu Qian||朱镜蓉 Zhu Jingrong|
|金亚喜 Jin Yaxi||周国林 Zhou Guolin||王争强 Wang Zhengqiang|
|吴立虹 Wu Lihong||宁书平 Ning Shuping||郭达显 Guo Daxian|
|曹云兰 Cao Yunlan||隋立松 Sui Lisong||王广明 Wang Guangming|
|冯淑兰 Feng Shulan||穆怀兰 Mu Huailan||付媛媛 Fu Yuanyuan|
|孙淑芳 Sun Shufang||王 连 Wang Lian||李春山 Li Chunshan|
|蒋艳琴 Jiang Yanqin||何凤亭 He Fengting||谭淑琴 Tan Shuqin|
|肖宗友 Xiao Zongyou||乔秀兰 Qiao Xiulan||张桂荣 Zhang Guirong|
|雷 勇 Lei Yong||陆燕京 Lu Yanjing||李浩泉 Li Haoquan|
|孙珊萍 Sun Shanping||林武云 Lin Wuyun||奚永顺 Xi Yongshun|
In accordance with suggestions by our fellow victims, we have decided to also include the names of our fellow signers from previous years who have since passed away, so as to honor their last wishes:
|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 Zha Weilin||刘建兰 Liu Jianlan|
|索秀女 Suo Xiunü||杨子明 Yang Ziming|
For more information on the Tiananmen Mothers, see: