China discusses "under the table" payments for Tiananmen victims
May 31, 2011, 7:05 GMT
Beijing - A group of victims' relatives on Tuesday said the government had raised the issue of 'under the table' compensation to families of some of the hundreds of people who died during China's 1989 military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.
The Tiananmen Mothers group said the government had previously ignored its repeated appeals to discuss the crackdown and the payment of compensation to relatives of those who died.
'This year, the silence was finally broken,' it said in an open letter to mark the 22nd anniversary of the event.
'This should have been welcome. But what in fact does this belated response mean?' said the letter posted on the group's website, www.tiananmenmother.org.
'If the authorities merely want to settle the June 4 matter with money and to do it under the table, then what kind of results will this produce?'
The open letter said the ruling Communist Party's current suppression of dissent was the worst since 1989.
In the crackdown following online calls in February for peaceful anti-government protests, 'silence has reigned across the country,' it said.
'To our surprise, it was against this grim backdrop that public security agencies have initiated private, individual conversations and dialogues with some of the families of the June 4 victims. How can this not be strange?'
For the past 16 years, the group has demanded an official investigation into the military action on June 3-4, 1989 and a public announcement of the death toll and the names of the dead.
The Tiananmen Mothers is an informal group of relatives and supporters of victims of the 1989 crackdown.
It takes its name from Beijing's Tiananmen Square, where the 1989 protests began.
The group 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 203 people in Beijing overnight on June 3-4, 1989, but they believe the total number of casualties is much higher.