This time each year for the past quarter-century, China’s communist government works tirelessly in its quest to suppress any outcry against the murderous actions it took in the early-morning hours of June 4, 1989 in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
Saturday marks the 27th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre in which the People’s Liberation Army swarmed a group of peaceful pro-democracy protesters (students and ordinary citizens alike) during the night, opening fire and ruthlessly running them down with their tanks. Although the exact figure remains a mystery, it is believed that hundreds – even thousands – were killed.
The Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to stifle acts of protest and resistance have not stopped one activist group, though. In a brave move, human rights coalition Tiananmen Mothers wrote an open letter Wednesday accusing the CCP of subjecting them to nearly three decades of “white terror” in an attempt to stop the members from speaking out against the massacre and the disgraceful government that carried it out.
The Tiananmen Mothers is a group of Chinese pro-democracy activists comprised of the parents, relatives, and friends of those murdered in the Tiananmen Square Massacre. The group, formed in September 1989, campaigns for change in the government’s distorted and straight-out wrong position on the events, as well as disseminates information about the massacre to the vastly naive public.
In their world of censorship, suppression, and constant fear of reprisal, the group’s actions were courageous, to say the least. The letter publicly proclaimed that members of the coalition had been spied on, detained, and threatened by government agents.
China’s scheme to incite fear was lost on the group, however. The families vowed they would not be silenced by such “detestable perversity”. “We have nothing left to fear,” they wrote.
Meanwhile, in the days leading up to the anniversary, Beijing has been taking action against those acknowledging the true events of June 4, 1989. China sees any act of defiance – no matter how small or innocuous – as “counter-revolutionary uprisings”.
On Sunday, a man in southwest China was arrested on treason charges after allegedly sharing online photos of bottles of Chinese liquor with labels alluding to the massacre, according to an article by The Guardian.
This same week, it is reported that at least three people were apprehended in Beijing early Tuesday after attending a remembrance event where they were photographed under a banner which read: “Don’t Forget the Wounds of the Country.”
The CCP’s crusade hit home for Tiananmen Mothers as well. The group’s very own founder, Ding Zilin, has purportedly been confined to her home in Beijing by security officials.
79 year-old Ding, along with her husband, started Tiananmen Mothers in 1989 after her 17-year old son was shot through the heart by the People’s Liberation Army that fateful day. Ding became a widow last September when her husband died at the age of 82.
Addressing this in the open letter Wednesday, her fellow campaigners wrote of Ding: “She is physically and mentally exhausted and her state is worrisome.”
Despite the recent arrests made, the activists continue to demand truth, justice, accountability, and compensation. They boldly announced that they will ignore the pressure the state is putting on them.
“A government that unscrupulously slaughters its own fellow citizens, a government that does not know how to cherish its own fellow citizens, and a government that forgets, conceals, and covers up the truth of historical suffering has no future,” they wrote.