Families of Tiananmen Square victims accuse Beijing of three decades of 'white terror'

Campaigners say they have been spied on and threatened by security agents in letter released in the run-up to 27th anniversary of the protests

The families of those killed during the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown have accused Beijing of subjecting them to nearly three decades of “white terror” in a bid to stop them speaking out about the massacre.

In an open letter, published on Wednesday ahead of the 27th anniversary of the protests, the Tiananmen Mothers campaigning group said its members had been spied on, detained and threatened by security agents as part of attempts to cover up the killings.

But the families vowed they would not be silenced by such “detestable perversity”. “We have nothing left to fear,” they wrote.

Saturday marks the 27th anniversary of the start of the military offensive against pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square – and in other Chinese cities – during which hundreds, perhaps thousands are believed to have died.

To this day, the Communist party continues to outlaw discussion or remembrance of those events, fearing such a reckoning would affect its grip on power. No public investigation has even been held and the precise death toll remains a mystery.

Ahead of this year’s anniversary, police have embarked on their annual campaign to quell dissent.

At least three activists were detained in Beijing in the early hours of Tuesday after attending a remembrance event where they were photographed under a banner reading: “Don’t forget the wounds of the country.”

On Sunday, a man in southwest China was detained on subversion charges after allegedly sharing online photographs of bottles of Chinese liquor with labels alluding to the crackdown.

Meanwhile Ding Zilin, the 79-year-old founder of the Tiananmen Mothers coalition, has reportedly been confined to her Beijing home by security officials.

Ding, whose 17-year-old son was shot through the heart during the 1989 crackdown, became a widow last September when her husband died at the age of 82.

“She is physically and mentally exhausted and her state is worrisome,” her fellow campaigners said in their open letter this week.

The Tiananmen Mothers said they would ignore the pressure and continue to demand truth, accountability, and compensation.

“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.

“It is a government that is continuing to commit crimes.”

Contributor

Tom Phillips in Beijing

The GuardianTramp

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