Tiananmen Mothers demand inquiry into China's 1989 crackdown

Last Updated: Wed, Mar 02, 2011 07:10 hrs

Beijing, March 2 (DPA) A group of victims' relatives Wednesday urged the Chinese government to investigate the deaths of hundreds of people during the 1989 military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

The Tiananmen Mothers group wrote an open letter renewing its demand for an official investigation into the military action June 3-4, 1989 and a public announcement of the toll and the names of the dead.

The appeal was published on the group's website www.tiananmenmother.org and addressed to the National People's Congress (NPC), the nominal state parliament, which is scheduled to open its annual session Saturday.

'Our purpose in writing this letter to you is to seek legal justice for our departed relatives and other victims,' the 128 signatories said.

The letter called the ruling Communist Party's handling of the crackdown a 'big mistake'.

It demanded individual compensation to families of victims and the prosecution of those found responsible for the deaths.

The NPC had 'never discussed or debated the killings that happened on the Square in 1989, nor has the verdict delivered by (former leader) Deng Xiaoping at the time ever been changed', the group said.

'For many years, the Communist Party leadership has used the 'people first' slogan,' the letter said.

'But why not allow Chinese media and websites to openly discuss the June 4 victims? Why not allow people to discuss the truth of June 4?'

The Tiananmen Mothers is an informal group of relatives and supporters of victims of the 1989 crackdown that has campaigned since 1995 for an inquiry and for the government to offer an apology and compensation to the families of victims.

It takes its name from Beijing's Tiananmen Square, where the 1989 protests began.

It is led by retired university professor Ding Zilin, whose 17-year-old son was killed by a soldier's bullet, and includes dozens of other parents and supporters of victims.

Ding's group has confirmed the deaths of some 200 people in Beijing overnight June 3-4, 1989, but they believe the total number of casualties is much higher.