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Tiananmen Families Renew Calls for Redress as EU Considers Lifting Arms Embargo

February 28, 2005

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has received a copy of an open letter written to the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference by Ding Zilin and more than 100 other family members of people killed or injured in the official crackdown on pro-democracy protesters on and around June 4, 1989. In the open letter, the family members say that the June 4th Incident remains a blot on China’s history, which can only be removed through an unbiased reassessment, including a rehabilitation of former Party Secretary Zhao Ziyang.

For the past 10 years, the family members have been pressing three demands in relation to the 1989 crackdown: 1) a new official investigation into the events of June 1989; legal redress and compensation for the victims and their families; and inquiries by the procuratorate to establish official accountability for June 4th. In the past ten years, the families note, the Chinese leadership has passed from the second generation to the third, and now the fourth, but there has been no response to the group’s demands.

The open letter charges that China’s political reforms have regressed seriously since the fourth generation leadership under Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao took office, and that human rights and freedom of expression have been severely curtailed. This was most recently exemplified by repressive measures the authorities took against Ding Zilin and others who sought to commemorate former Party Secretary Zhao Ziyang following his death on January 17. The signatories note that at least ten families among them were placed under house arrest or close monitoring during the period following Zhao’s death.

The family members recognize the limitations placed on the members of the two national bodies by China’s one-party dictatorship, but observe that delegates still have more influence than the average Chinese citizen, and ask them to demonstrate their courage by taking up the issues raised in the open letter.

“We fully support the June 4th families and the entirely reasonable demands they make in their open letter,” said HRIC president Liu Qing. “The government’s intransigence on reassessing June 4th is particularly relevant now that the EU is seriously considering lifting the arms embargo it imposed on China after June 4th. We call on the EU to back the Tiananmen families by insisting on a thorough official reassessment of the June 4th Incident and appropriate redress to the victims and their families before there is any further reconsideration of the arms embargo issue.”