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Tiananmen Mothers Petition China’s 16th Party Congress

November 14, 2002

For Immediate Release

The Tiananmen Mothers, a group representing families of protesters killed or injured in Beijing during the violent official crackdown on June 4th, 1989, has issued an open letter to China’s new Politburo Standing Committee calling for justice for the victims and a more democratic system for China.

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has received a copy of the open letter in which the 114 signatories, including Ding Zilin, express three major demands as the 16th Party Congress concludes its session in Beijing with the naming of a new leadership.

The Tiananmen Mothers call on the new Chinese leadership to reassess and take responsibility for the violent crackdown, and to establish a formal dialogue with the bereaved families. The Tiananmen Mothers also request that the Party Congress establish an investigatory body to conduct an independent inquiry into the massacre and publicize its findings. Finally, the group reiterates its demands for the authorities to publish an official list of those killed and to offer appropriate legal and financial remedies to the families.

Apart from demands relating to June 4th, the Tiananmen Mothers point out that China’s social stability cannot be achieved through coercion and suppression. Instead, the group urges the Chinese government to embrace full-scale political, economic and social reform, including establishment of a genuinely democratic multi-party political system.

HRIC President Liu Qing notes, “The open letter makes a strong point in saying that the Chinese authorities can’t hope for the June 4th Massacre to simply fade away with time, nor can they make it disappear through suppression. The longer this impasse drags on, the greater the frustration and ill-feeling it causes. A speedy resolution is the only effective way to heal the nation’s wounds.”

HRIC fully supports the demands of the Tiananmen Mothers for an official reassessment of the June 4th Massacre and for political and human rights reforms that will prevent such a tragedy ever occuring in China again. If China’s new Politburo Standing Committee can take the open letter of the Tiananmen Mothers to heart, this will be an important step in the right direction.

For more information, contact:
Stacy Mosher (English) 212-268-9074
Liu Qing (Chinese) 212-239-4495




An Open Letter to the new Central Committee of the 16th Chinese Communist Party Congress by Ding Zilin and other victims' families

To the Central Committee of the 16th Chinese Communist Party Congress:

As the curtain lowers on the 16th Party Congress and rises on the establishment of the new Central Committee, we families of the victims of the tragic events of June Fourth express our views and hopes to the Party as follows:

  • It has now been 13 years since the June Fourth tragedy, but our people and our country have still not recovered from the grief and pain it brought. We still live in the shadow of history. During these 13 years China has undergone profound social, economic and cultural changes. Yet all these changes cannot conceal the fact that the massacre was an act of violence and foolishness contrary to the will of our people and the course of history. The Chinese Communist Party as the ruling party cannot deny responsibility. Originally we hoped the 16th Party Congress would make representations to the people regarding June 4th, but the result was disappointing. We now take this opportunity to urge the newly appointed Central Committee to bear in mind the future of the nation and the people; to discard the old way of ruling and adopt a new one; to reflect with sincere repentance on this shameful and indelible blot on the history of the party; and with the proper attitude of responsibility to promptly reassess this incident.
  • During the past 13 years, victims and their families have peacefully and rationally urged the Party and the government to deal fairly with the June Fourth Incident by means of democracy and the rule of law and through dialogue and consultation. For this reason, since 1995 we have reiterated three demands to establish a base for dialogue and consultation as follows:
    • Establish an independent investigatory committee formed by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) to investigate the June Fourth Incident independently and fairly, and to publicize the findings of the investigation, including the number of those killed and their names.
    • The Standing Committee of the NPC, in conjunction with the relevant authorities and in accordance with standard legal procedure, should make representations to the families of each victim. The Standing Committee of the NPC should enact specific legal remedies and deliver appropriate compensation to the victims or their families.
    • The Standing Committee of NPC should work with the relevant investigatory authorities to investigate the tragedy and bring those responsible to justice.

      It is regrettable that after all these years our request for dialogue has still not been realized. We hope the new members of the Central Committee will at earliest opportunity take measures to develop a policy of dialogue with us.

  • The stability of the nation and the well-being of the people is the common wish of China's billions of citizens. Yet this can never be realized through dictatorship and suppression, but only through constructive dialogue between the government and the people. Our request to deal with the June Fourth Incident through dialogue is out of consideration for national stability. The Party's policy makers must be well aware that the deep wounds left by June 4th cannot be suppressed, nor will they fade or recede with time. Suppressive measures might stifle dissent for a while, but cannot bring about long-term stability. The attempt to procrastinate indefinitely in reaching a just resolution to June 4th can only deepen the people's pain and hate and ultimately endanger national stability. We hereby sincerely call on the new leadership of Central Committee to use this transition as a turning point to resolve the June Fourth Incident, to pacify the people's anger, to resolve the crisis, and to achieve conciliation between the government and the people, and by these means to prevent a large scale social disturbance.
  • Over the past half-century, our country and our people have suffered from the ten-year turmoil of the Culture Revolution and innumerable calamities leading to the inhumane suffering and death of millions of innocent people. This kind of historical tragedy, ignoring human dignity and treating human life as grass, should not be allowed to continue. Chinese history has always acknowledged the value of human life, and has recognized respect for human life as the basis of civilization. This is why adopting policies that prevent the loss of innocent life through man-made disaster should be the primary goal of any political power. We call on the Party to learn from history and review the Party's fundamental rules so as to reach a consensus between the ruling party and the opposition and reestablish a spirit of "love and tolerance" that will free the people from terror and reassure them that each and every life is conscientiously respected and protected.
  • Looking at the world today, we see that freedom, democracy, human rights, and rule of law have become an irresistible trend. China's modernization cannot be attained without following a similar path.

    We note that President Jiang Zemin stated publicly during his visit to the USA in October that democracy and human rights are the common aspirations of all people. If this statement was not merely diplomatic rhetoric of the moment, it should not only be spoken but also immediately implemented. Unfortunately, during the Chinese Communist Party Congress we did not see the Party take any steps to implement these universal values. In today's China the government has not loosened its control on the public sector or civil rights, but on the contrary has push its control to an extreme. Ordinary people, especially the underclass, are not only denied the protection of civil rights written in the Constitution, but are even exploited by the powers that be to the extent that they can no longer protect themselves in any way. We believe this is the fundamental reason for the present deterioration into corruption and injustice, impoverishment and inequality, and also for the increasingly extreme incidence of social conflict and escalating crises of all kinds. All these conditions indicate clearly that there is an immediate need for our country to implement democracy and human rights. If the Party is to not only recognize but also implement democracy and human rights as the essential means to attaining modernization, then we believe the people have reason to expect the new members of Central Committee to boldly and courageously act in the long term interests of the nation and the people by resolving to embrace full-scale political, economic and social reforms.

Signature: Tiananmen Mothers----victims and families of victims of June Fourth

Ding Zilin, Zhang Xianling, Zhou Shuzhuang, Li Xuewen, Xu Jue, Guo Liying, You Weijie, Yin Min, Gao Jie, Du Dongyu, Song Xiuling, Yu Qing, Jiang Peikun, Wang Fandi, Yuan Kezhi, Duan Hongbing, Zhao Ting, Qian Putai, Wu Dingfu, Sun Chengkang, Kuang Diqing, Huang Jinping, He Tianfeng, Meng Shuying, Yuan Shumin, Liu Meihua, Xie Jinghua, Zhou Shuzhen, Ma Xueqin, Kuang Ruirong, Zhang Shuqiu, Zhang Shushen, Yang Dayong, Liu Xiuchen, Shen Guifang, Xie Jingrong, Sun Ning, Wang Guoxian, Meng Jinxiu, Yao Furong, Sun Xiuzhi, Meng Shuzhen, Tian Shuling, Kou Yusheng, Wang Guirong, Tan Hanfeng, Sun Hengyao, Zhou Yan, Li Guiying, Xu Baosu, Liu Chunlin, De Mengqi, Yang Yinshan, Guan Weidong, Shuo Xiunu, Liu Shuqin, Wang Peijing, Wang Shuanglan, Zhang Zhenxia, Zhu Zhidi, Liu Tianyuan, Pan Muzhi, Wang Dingying, He Ruitian, Chen Shuzhen, Zhang Yaozu, Bao Yutian, Ga Weilin, Hao Yichuan, Xiao Changyi, Ren Jinbao, Lin Jingpei, Tian Weiyan, Yang Zhiyu, Qi Guoxiang, Li Xianyuan, Zhang Caifeng, Wang Yuqin, Han Shuxiang, Cao Changxian, Fang Zheng, Qi Zhiyong, Feng Youxiang, He Xingcai, Liu Renan, Li Shujuan, Xiong Hui, Han Guogang, Shi Feng, Zhou Zhigang, Pang Meiqing, Huang Ning, Wang Bodong, Zhang Zhiqiang, Zhao JinShuo, Kong Weizhen, Liu Baodong, Lu Yubao, Lu Masheng, Qi Zhiying, Fang Guizhen, Xiao Shulan, Ge Guirong, Zheng Xiucun, Wang Huirong, Xing Chengli, Gui Delan, Wang Yunqi, Huang Suefen, Wang Lin, Liu Qian, Zhu Jingrong
[114 people]