Dissident victims of China’s crackdown on the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests called for world pressure on Beijing to reverse the official verdict on the incident as its 20th anniversary approached.
Failure to stand up to a rising China over the “atrocity” of June 4, 1989, tacitly abets Communist Party repression, they said.
“So far, the international community ... has adopted a policy of appeasement toward the Chinese government,” said Ding Zilin (丁子霖), whose teenage son Jiang Jielian (蔣捷連) was shot dead by the army.
“They are lenient toward this atrocity,” said Ding, 72, a former philosophy professor and now leader of the Tiananmen Mothers, which for 20 years has unsuccessfully pressured the government to be heard.
Early on June 4, Chinese tanks and soldiers rolled into Tiananmen Square, killing hundreds, possibly thousands, as the government moved to crush weeks-long pro-democracy demonstrations that had hugely embarrassed the ruling Communist Party.
China’s government has refused to provide a full account of the bloodshed, which remains a taboo subject in China and is only referred to officially as a “political disturbance,” if mentioned at all.
But foreign pressure for a reassessment of the incident and rehabilitation of its victims, living or dead, is vital on the 20th anniversary if China is to have any hope of healing “the wrongs of the past,” dissident Bao Tong (鮑彤) said.
“A government that is not responsible to its own people, cannot be responsible toward the rest of the world,” Bao said.
Bao, 76, a former top aide to late Chinese leader Zhao Ziyang (趙紫陽), was arrested after Zhao himself was purged for sympathizing with the protesters. He has spent most of the last 20 years in jail, under house arrest or facing other restrictions.
“Not wanting to offend China means they cannot help China, cannot help China’s people attain their own rights, and cannot help the world community gain a reliable, stable, peaceful member,” Bao said. “This is not a good thing. If [the world] does not care, then they bear a large part of the responsibility.”
In common with previous years, China is widely expected to tighten security as the anniversary nears, to thwart any calls for a reassessment.
Dissidents have already reported being detained and harassed on the April 15 anniversary of the death of reformist communist leader Hu Yaobang (胡耀邦). It was Hu’s death that sparked the calls for political reform that led to the Tiananmen demonstrations.
But Qi Zhiyong (齊志勇), who lost a leg after being shot on June 4, echoed other dissidents in saying the Communist Party would never come clean on its “crimes” at Tiananmen.
Qi, 52, calls the party a “Chinese dynasty” committed solely to its own survival, through violence if necessary.
“As long as the party does not reassess their judgment on June 4 and acknowledge that it was a patriotic and democratic movement, then democracy cannot advance here,” Qi said. “It means that all they say about advancing democracy and human rights are lies.”