'I Didn't Once Hear The Sound of Laughter'


2015.02.06
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china-tiananmen-mothers-feb2-2015.jpg The Tiananmen Mothers meet for dinner in Beijing on Feb. 2, 2015.
(Photo courtesy of the Tiananmen Mothers)

Retired university professor Ding Zilin, whose 17-year-old son Jiang Jielan was killed during the armed crackdown on the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement, has campaigned tirelessly through her advocacy group, Tiananmen Mothers, for official recognition of the innocent lives that were lost. Every year, the group gathers and writes an open letter to China's annual parliamentary session in March, calling for the overturning of the official verdict of "counterrevolutionary rebellion" and requesting full details about casualties as well as the the right to bury the remains of loved ones.

This year, the atmosphere was joyless. Those who spoke were suffering, and those who listened were suffering. Several victims came. How do you think it felt?

Really, I didn't hear the sound of a single laugh. Nobody could do anything to help each other, but we spoke quietly about how last year's anniversary was viewed.

Every family had something to say about this.

I spoke about the people who are behind bars now because they attended the symposium for the 25th anniversary of June 4 last year, including lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, who faces a heavy jail term.

Half free

There is also scholar Xu Youyu, who is only half free. He donated all his prize money from the Swedish Olof Palme d'Or human rights prize to the Tiananmen Mothers.

When I spoke about that, the mood at the meeting got very excited and angry [about the crackdown].

There was no interference [from the authorities]. We took measures to deal with this. We didn't make a lot of fuss over the meeting, and they didn't come and harass us.

All this group of people wants is to exist. For as long as the issue of June 4 stays unresolved, we will do everything in our power to keep supporting [a reappraisal].

Now that I am back I am going to write about it, so that everyone will know about it. This is my responsibility, and my duty.

[I will write that] we must maintain our stance with dignity, and stay alive with dignity.

Under the authoritarian and oppressive society that we have today, everyone knows that the truth is on our side.

So who in fact is afraid of whom?

Reported by Wen Yuqing for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated by Luisetta Mudie.

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