Tiananmen Square remembered: The parents who lost their children have a message for China’s leaders

Tiananmen Square remembered: The parents who lost their children have a message for China’s leaders

An excerpt of a letter by victim families support group Tiananmen Mothers, who are mourning those killed in the June 4 crackdown

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The Tiananmen Mothers are a victim families support group who promote a change in the government’s position over the suppression of the 1989 June 4 protests.
Photo: Tiananmen Mothers

We are a group of citizens who lost our loved ones in the June Fourth Massacre.

Thirty years ago, along Chang’an Avenue in front of the Tiananmen Gate in the Chinese capital of Beijing and on the city’s main road, fully armed squadron of troops used machine guns, tanks, and even using expanding bullets (a type of bullet that expands inside a victim’s body to inflict as much damage as possible) – which had been banned by the international community – to massacre unsuspecting and unarmed young students and citizens who were petitioning peacefully. The bloody carnage claimed thousands of lives and hurled thousands of families into an abyss of despair.

The massacre took place under a global spotlight. For years, many of the streets and alleys of Beijing were riddled with bullet holes and stained with blood. Thirty years later, while the criminal evidence has been covered up by the facade of “prosperity” made up of towering buildings and brand new roads and highways, the hard facts of the massacre are etched into history. No one can erase it; no power, however mighty, can change it; and no words can deny it.

During the Great Famine of the 1950s and 60s, in which tens of millions of our compatriots starved to death, former Chinese President Liu Shaoqi warned Mao Zedong, “People are eating people – it will be written in books.” Considering this, we can’t help but wonder: Wouldn’t the People’s Liberation Army’s mass killing of innocent people in full public view also be recorded in history? How can these numerous murderers escape the trial of history in the end?

It has been 30 years since the June Fourth Massacre. While it may be just the blink of an eye in the great river of history, it can be an eternity in a person’s life. For 30 years, dust has risen and fallen, and the moon has waxed and waned, but nothing has soothed our trauma and pain. Our suffering is not limited to the massacre on the night of June 3-4, 1989. Over the past 30 years, the Chinese authorities have repeatedly torn open the deep wounds in our hearts and rubbed salt in them. Those in power had initially brashly claimed they would “kill 200,000 people to maintain stability for 20 years,” sending hundreds of thousands of soldiers to Beijing to kill and burn. But afterwards, the authorities shirked responsibility and began the despicable and cowardly act of fabricating history. The government first characterised the June Fourth Massacre as “turmoil” and “counter-revolutionary riots”, before relabelling it a “political disturbance” several years later. However, in the 2018 compilation of The Chronicle of 40 Years of Reform and Opening prepared by the Institute of Party History and Documentation, the June Fourth Massacre was again relabelled as “turmoil” and the “suppression of counter-revolutionary riots”. Isn’t all the confusion, flip-flopping, and back-pedalling making the lies even more hideous?

Today, before the fallen heroes of June Fourth – our most beloved – we must confide this: our tears are drained, our strength is exhausted, and our hearts are shattered. All our efforts to clear your names have yet to be successful. We are filled with guilt and remorse, and unbearable grief. Heavens, if you look down upon us, grant us just a bit more strength and a few more tears, and allow us to wipe clean the mud and scum splashed onto those who sacrificed their lives on June 4 even to this day!

Great Earth, if you look up upon us, please grant peace to the departed in their rest and bring them justice. They were innocents who sacrificed their lives to the cause of opposing official corruption, and most definitely not some “turmoil-inciting elements” or “counter-revolutionary insurgents”.

Oh, history, if you are sentient, please soothe the wounds of the those fallen with your hands of justice and allow these pure and holy souls to rest in peace as soon as possible …

The full letter can be read here.


“30 years ago, we were involved in this tragedy. Before that, all of our families were living in peace and harmony. In just one night, all of that was shattered. You think we can get over it? Of course not. The pain our country inflicted on us was huge. It is something that we cannot accept. If one person is harmed by another person for no reason, the offender must bear legal consequences … Our pain must not be ignored just because the wrongdoer is our country. This is our motivation, we must get vindication for our family members.”

– You Weijie, spokesperson of the Tiananmen Mothers, told Young Post on May 2

Edited by Nicole Moraleda


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This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Not keeping mum

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