“64” incident victim’s family, one of the founders of “the Tiananmen Mothers” Ding Zilin (丁子霖) once again appealed to the Chinese government to admit its mistakes, as “64” vindication of the Patriotic Democratic Movements of students.
Ding Zilin’s son Jiang Lian (蒋捷) in June 3 1989 at Tiananmen Square in solidarity with the protesting students was shot dead by the People’s Liberation Army. He was only 17 years old.
BBC News reporter Shang Qing (尚清) interviewed Ding Ziling during 20th anniversary of “64”.
Q: 20 years later, “the Tiananmen Mother” as a pressure group, what did you demand the Chinese government?
Since 1995, we have 27 fellows with real names jointly put forward our demands to the government. It summed up in three points, six words (Chinese words).
First is the “truth”. We urge the government to publish the truth, appeal to the Standing Committee of the “64” incident to conduct an independent and impartial investigation, and then announce the death toll, the death list to the family of the deceased and to the people across the country, giving each family of deceased an answer.
Second is “compensation”. Ask the standing Committee to the development of “64” Compensation Act. Each affected family shall be compensated.
Third is “accountability”. Demanding to bring for those responsible for the “64” massacre to justice.
Since 1995, every year we are writing open letter to reiterate these demands. In 1997, we asked the government to set aside high positions to talk sincerely and equally with our victims group. Now is the era of communication instead of confrontation. The Chinese government can talk with the other side of the strait (Taiwan), they can also talk with previously enemy countries, why can’t they talk to victims of their fellow compatriots?
Q: Has there been any response to any of these demands?
After request there has not been any response. In 2006 in order to express our sincerity, we have put forward “solve the easier part first, and gradually solve the principle” because we know “64” problem cannot be solved over night.
We can shelve the major controversy, and gradually resolve. We have put forward specific demands they are: the lifting of the personal monitoring of victim’s relatives; give us the right to openly mourn our loved ones; refund being detained humanitarian contributions; give unconditional grants to elders of the victims’ family members; give disabled person social security as same as the other disabled citizens. If the Government is sincere, these are not difficult to do.
In 2007, the Government has made some changes. I am no longer being followed. No matter where I went, my calls were being monitored. My husband’s e-mail has also been monitored. This lasted for two years.
Q: Does this mean the government has relaxed its position?
May 17 this year, we are prepared to hold a memorial ceremony of our loved ones in the morning. They came to my house, and expressly prohibited me attending the memorial ceremony. We said that we are behind closed doors in private homes, to hold a memorial ceremony ourselves. If there are restrictions on that what rights do we have? They said, the public security of the information said that Hong Kong’s’ Tiananmen Mothers Campaign ‘and foreign journalists will come to join us in the memorial ceremony, and the size of 5 to 60 were too large.
With the door-to-door informing the monitoring also started. At anytime there are undercover prohibits me to go out. In fact, neither the reporters nor the Hong Kong compatriots came. And we have decided in advance, other than our own group of people no one else will attend the ceremony.
2007,2008, under their monitoring, it seems that we have made it. The past two years, I have held memorial ceremony at the time and the place where my son fell down (Sweetclover). I did not say a word, and others grief in silence. We were just crying and holding each other.
I do not know this year what will happen on June 3. They have told me that Sweetclover is a public place, they have obtain the information, more than 20 media companies are waiting for you, so they will not let me go. I am very angry, and I said, you can kill my son at this public place Sweetclover, we are not allowed to hold a memorial ceremony at night? This is so unacceptable.
The past few days, the U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visited to China. I have heard that three victim’s family in our group were told by the police to not to go out. If we really have to go out then they will provide ride for us. If we really don’t want to ride in police car they will provide civilian cars. Some people were told any actions on June 5 are restricted. This is the reality of our lives.
This indicates that, because of the Beijing Olympic Games, the Government has changed, but they can always take everything back. I realized that they are not in accordance with the law, but act in accordance with their own needs, there is no progress. For example, I now accept your interview tomorrow I do not know what will happen here. I am surrounded by some of the signing of the Charter, the drafting of eight friends, they have gone through many raids. Their computer was found and removed one after another. We are now living in the cages that their houses.
Q: “64” incident in the present are rarely mentioned in China, especially the younger generation has a very shallow understanding. Some people even think that such as the Tiananmen Mothers organization is under the guise of human rights to create trouble, the majority of people are misunderstanding the situation how should you respond?
What you said is in line with our situation now. But we are not an organization, but a suffering of vulnerable group. I received a lot of media interviews, almost every reporter mentioned that the current young people do not know “64”, or to stay away from politics, or the enjoyment of life and so on.
I as a mother, I really do not want to lay too much blame on too many young people of this generation. I am 73 years old, a lot of people are grandmothers at my age, and I think they have their families.
Q: In a media interview in April when he said that the Chinese Communists do not admit their mistakes, you will never forgive them. Are you still taking such an attitude? They still insist on not to admit their mistakes, will you have any other way to achieve your aspirations?
We are old now, 20 fellows have already passed away one after another. Maybe we cannot live long enough to see the results, but we value in the process that we are doing our best. We are now trying to scramble for time to write down everything we know to say it out, to history, to the young people now.
In fact, we all understand that when people die we cannot bring back their lives. 20 years, the most difficult time has passed, and now ones have the most difficult time are those elders with low, no health insurance, loss their ability to work, with health issues. These are not in the majority of us. Therefore, compensation must be done in accordance with the law.
To this day, no matter how they can take measures to suppress us illegally, we did not close the doors to talk. The problem is that the Government has not shown good faith, so if they do not admit their mistakes, I feel absolutely no reconciliation, no forgiveness also. Admitting is the second step the first step is to restore the historical truth. We cannot take human lives so lightly. Wen Jiabao (温家宝), Hu Jintao (胡锦涛) said that ‘people-oriented’, thousands of lives lost and so many other thousands of lives were disabled. People’s lives should be equal, we they die none can bring them back.
We think, 20 years, we were dedicated, but we have not brought for a shred of justice to our loved ones. The only comfort we can give to our loved ones’ souls is under the high pressure of the Chinese Communist Government, we have succeeded in protecting the rights and dignity of life, including those rights and dignity of the dead. This is the only thing we can be accountable to the pro-people. However, today we have not been able to let them rest in peace. I think only if I can bring back justice, they will truly rest in peace. Perhaps we see this day, but sooner or later, one day history will make it fair.