Monday, 28 May 2012

A Lost Will to Fight

I was dismayed to read in the news today a father who had lost his son during the Tiananmen Square crackdown, committed suicide after 23 years of "injustice".

Ya Weilin, 73, was a retired hospital worker and member of Tiananmen Mothers, a group comprised of victims' families who are trying to get the government to change its position on the incident in 1989.

According to an obituary issued by Tiananmen Mothers, he hanged himself in an unfinished underground car park at No. 2 Hospital of the former Ministry of Nuclear Industry, south of Capital Normal University in Haidian district.

Ya's second son Ya Aiguo was shot in the head and killed at the age of 22 in Gongzhufen area of west Beijing late on June 3, 1989.

Ya Weilin left his home at 10am on Thursday and it wasn't until about 3:30pm Friday that his oldest son, daughter-in-law and niece found his body.

A few days before he killed himself, his wife and oldest son found a letter in which Ya wrote of his plan to take his own life, citing years of injustice, but they did not take the letter seriously.

Founder of Tiananmen Mothers Ding Zilin said it was the first time a member had committed suicide over the despondency at their decades-long fight against the authorities.

"We didn't expect that he would end his life like this," Ding said of Ya. "Every time he met us, he asked how the campaign was going. It was disappointing to him every time."

It is so sad to hear Ya lost his willingness to fight anymore; the fact that despite all their agitations, the Tiananmen Mothers are ignored by the Chinese government.

He wanted his son's death to be recognized, that he did not die in vain and be unaccounted for. And yet Ya Weilin's suicide will also not be reported by state media because of the sensitivity around it and so practically hardly anyone in China will know what he did and why.

Beijing refuses to acknowledge the bloody crackdown even took place, telling younger generations who were born in the 80s and 90s that it was an incident sparked by hoodlums.

However, yesterday afternoon there was a protest march in Hong Kong to mark the upcoming 23rd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square incident, and it was more poignant because of Ya's death.

And more mainland Chinese visitors are taking part too, after learning about what happened on the evening of June 3, 1989 through their visits to Hong Kong.

The more people know, the awareness will make them realize the selfishness of the Chinese government in protecting itself over its people.

If the Chinese government cannot even come to terms with the Cultural Revolution, how will it even begin to confront Tiananmen?

Next Monday we will remember Ya and his frustrated attempts to make the authorities see the errors in its ways.

We will continue his fight so that he may eventually see justice for his son.

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