Tiananmen mothers say government hints at payment, no apology

Tue May 31, 2011 5:26am EDT
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BEIJING (Reuters) - Mothers of people killed during pro-democracy protests near Beijing's Tiananmen Square more than two decades ago said on Tuesday authorities had raised the issue of compensation but offered no apologies or public account of the crackdown.

A group of 127 mothers signed a letter, drafted ahead of Saturday's 22nd anniversary of the military sweep of protesters in China's capital, saying public security officials had approached one unidentified victim's family twice since February about payment.

"The visitors did not speak of making the truth public, carrying out judicial investigations, or providing an explanation for the case of each victim. Instead, they only raised the question of how much to pay," the mothers said in the letter.

On June 4, 1989, after weeks of protests in Tiananmen Square, troops backed by tanks crushed the demonstrations, prompting global condemnation.

The government has never released an official casualty count, but estimates from human rights groups and witnesses range from several hundred to several thousand dead.

Yang Dongquan, head of China's State Archives Administration, told reporters on Tuesday that the government had put a 30-year lock on documents from the period.

"We're still in a waiting period," he said, on a rare official trip for foreign media to his department, down an unassuming back ally in central Beijing.

"We've not yet reached the time to open them up," Yang added. "The rules state 30 years, at least. It can still be delayed even after 30 years, if the archive authorities decide it. It's the same rule for every country."

After the crackdown, the government called the movement a "counter revolutionary" plot, but has more recently referred to it as a "political disturbance."   Continued...

<p>A paramilitary policeman stands guard near red flags on Tiananmen Square during the closing ceremony of the National People's Congress (NPC) inside the adjacent Great Hall of the People in Beijing March 14, 2011. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic</p>