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Tiananmen Mothers Roundtable Calls for Official Accountability

May 31, 2007

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has received a full transcript of a roundtable held by Ding Zilin and more than 20 other members of the Tiananmen Mothers to commemorate the 18th anniversary of the violent crackdown on unarmed protesters in and around Beijing's Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. During the roundtable discussion, held on May 24 and 26, members of the group expressed their opinions and requests as an alternative to their previous open letters to the central government. On request from the Tiananmen Mothers, the full transcript is appended to the Chinese version of this press release. Photographs of the gathering are also appended to this press release.

The roundtable discussion explored several main themes organized in five sections of the transcript:

  1. "The intolerable injustice of denying the June 4th Massacre," in which members of the group relate their personal experiences and eyewitness accounts of the crackdown, and refute the claims of Hong Kong-based pro-Beijing political leader Ma Lik that "no one was killed at the Square." Members of the group describe how troops shot down their children or spouses in cold blood.
  2. "The Communist Party treats us as enemies," in which members of the group, including one who is physically handicapped, describe ongoing harassment and monitoring over the years. Members of the group observe, "The Communist authorities are unwilling to renounce class struggle tactics; in their eyes, the Tiananmen Mothers is a hostile organization. But because they don't dare to punish us outright, they instead carry out this constant infringement of our personal freedom."
  3. "We will do what we must," in which The Tiananmen Mothers reiterate the three demands they have repeated over the past years: publish the truth; offer apology and compensation; and pursue the administration of justice. Regarding compensation, members of the group reiterate that they are willing to accept some form of living allowance, but not if there are conditions attached, such as not speaking out in the future.
  4. "Radical versus gradual," and 5. "A painful choice." In these last two sections of the transcript, the Tiananmen Mothers advocate peacefully and rationally striving for their rights and gradually resolving the June 4th issue. In the face of official intransigence, members of the group express their inner pain and confusion, and reach a consensus on a peaceful and measured way forward. Ding Zilin says:

    "In the model plays of the Cultural Revolution, there is a song lyric that goes, 'Hatred in the heart must send forth shoots.' For us, too, hatred sends forth shoots, but the shoots growing from us are not those of revenge, but rather those that seek peace, justice and tranquility."

A truly harmonious society cannot be built on past injustices.
— Sharon Hom, executive director of HRIC

HRIC fully supports the calls of the Tiananmen Mothers for a reasonable, peaceful and gradual resolution of the June 4th issue, and urges the international community to continue to express its support and concern for the group. "A truly harmonious society cannot be built on past injustices," said Sharon Hom, HRIC's Executive Director. As 2008 approaches, HRIC urges the Chinese government to move constructively forward and respond to the demands of its own citizens, the Tiananmen Mothers, for truth, compensation and justice.

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