The President Thomas Mann opened the meeting of the TIG and introduced Ms Marie Holzman, Sinologist and specialist on contemporary China. Ms Holzman has written more than 15 books, including some biographies of Chinese dissidents. She regularly contributes to publications such as Politique Internationale and Etudes Chinoises. Her presentation is entitled “Tian’anMen, a festering wound that won’t go away.”
Ms Holzman said that the situation in China at the moment is opaque; you can say anything and no one will contradict you. But she could not imagine a Tibetan solution before China became democratic, although the situation was opening up to some degree.
18 years have passed since the events in Tian’anMen Square; people under 40 do not know much about it. No one is motivated to protest if they are to end up
in prison. In May 1989, a group of three opponents threw eggs filled with black ink at President Mao’s portrait on Tian’anMen square and were actually arrested by students who wanted to prove that they had nothing against the regime. All three were sent to jail for long periods : Lu Decheng spent 9 years in prison, Yu Dongyue came out jail recently. But now, if you speak of the events in Tian’anMen Square to anyone under 20 they think you are making it up.
There is a growing movement to make people think about the nature of Mao Zedong, who was a dictator with blood on his hands. Many people want his portrait removed before the Olympic Games, but no one would dare to do it. Even 18 years after Tian’anMen, it is still too early to talk about the system. People are still arrested indiscriminately and harassed and there is restriction on any kind of politically oriented movement. Just recently Mr Hu Jia and his wife, both well known activists, was arrested on their way to the airport and then remained under strict surveillance. Then the authorities changed their minds and left them alone. Why are they so nervous?
There is also a very active group of Mothers of Dead and Wounded in Tian’anMen who are real fighters and as time has passed they have made tremendous progress. Just recently Mrs Ding Zilin and 20 others organised a Round Table and they were able to send a record of the proceedings to the outside world. Members of the group described how troops shot down their children or spouses in cold blood, despite the claims of Hong Kong-based political leader Ma Lik who said “no-one was killed at the Square”. These mothers are regarded as hostile by the Communist Party and suffer constant infringements on their personal freedom, being regularly questioned by the police who try to find the internal enemy.
A member of the group said that the Communist Party treats them as enemies, when all they ask is the truth, apology and compensation.
The Chinese authorities consider any group of people as having support from outside, and as spies.
Nevertheless the Tian’anMen Mothers have integrated their demands in a very peaceful and rational way.