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Through Video, Tiananmen Mothers Speak Out on 25th Anniversary of June Fourth

May 30, 2014

In the lead up to the 25th anniversary of a horrific episode of government-ordered military violence against unarmed civilians, the Chinese authorities have redoubled their efforts—by criminal detention and other means of control—to suppress remembrances of what happened in June 1989. The Tiananmen Mothers, a group of survivors of June Fourth and family members of victims, have defied this enforced amnesia to speak out.

Even as key members of the group have been put under communications lockdown in recent months to prevent them from speaking with the press, the group has been releasing, during the same period, new documentation of June Fourth killings—in the form of essays about sons, husbands, and a daughter shot to death by government troops during the crackdown. This new material is based on interviews the group conducted in fall 2013 during arduous journeys to nine provinces and regions including Inner Mongolia.

HRIC releases today the first five videos of these interviews, shot by the Tiananmen Mothers and edited with English subtitles by HRIC. In these videos, parents talk about their children, who were driven to Tiananmen Square by their patriotic fervor, only to be snuffed out by the guns of an army built to liberate the people, as well as their families’ broken lives in the years since their children’s death.

Collectively, these oral testimonies make it powerfully clear that:

  • The passage of 25 years has not lessened the immense pain from the loss of these children
  • The killings are no more comprehensible now than they were a quarter century earlier
  • The victims’ families have not abandoned their quest for justice for their children 

A most fundamental question runs through these narratives: Why? The Chinese authorities will not be able to ignore forever the demands for truth, accountability, and compensation.

As one father said: “It’s been 24 years [since June Fourth]. For us, how much longer we will live—we also don’t know. These demands, we will not give up . . . If this generation doesn’t succeed, there’ll be the next.”

The subjects of these videos are:

Xiao Jie (肖杰)

Died at age 21, a student of journalism at Renmin University of China. Shot in the back on June 5, 1989.

[NOTE: Click [CC] button on screen bottom right for English subtitles.]         

Corresponding essay:

Sun Hui (孙辉)

Died at age 19, a student of chemistry at Peking University. Shot in the early morning of June 4, 1989.

[NOTE: Click [CC] button on screen bottom right for English subtitles.]

Corresponding essay:

Wu Guofeng (吴国锋)

Died at age 20, a student of industrial economics at Renmin University of China. Shot in the back of the head and stabbed in the lower abdomen, June 3, 1989. 

[NOTE: Click [CC] button on screen bottom right for English subtitles.]

Corresponding essay:

Shi Yan (石岩)

Died at age 27, a cellist in the Air Force Political Bureau Cultural Work Group. Married on May 1, 1989. Shot in the head in the early morning of June 4, 1989.

[NOTE: Click [CC] button on screen bottom right for English subtitles.]

Corresponding essay:

Liu Hongtao (刘洪涛)

Died at age 18, a student of optical engineering at the Beijing Institute of Technology. Shot in both legs in the early hours of June 4, 1989. 

[NOTE: Click [CC] button on screen bottom right for English subtitles.]

Corresponding essay:

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