Father of slain Tiananmen protester kills himself

AP News

5/28/2012 9:23:49 AM - AP News

The father of a man killed in the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown has hanged himself in protest after two decades of failed attempts to seek government redress, a support group said Monday.

The group, known as the Tiananmen Mothers, said 73-year-old Ya Weilin's body was found in an unused underground parking garage below his residential complex in Beijing. He was believed to have killed himself Friday.

An obituary the group posted on its website said that according to Ya's family, he had carried a note that detailed his son's death and declared that he would die in protest because the issue had not been addressed for more than 20 years.

"We have written repeatedly in the past 18 years," Ya said in a 2007 interview with Catalonian TV3. "They never bothered to reply, not even once, totally ignored us."

Beijing police did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment.

Ya's death came about a week ahead of the anniversary of the night of June 3-4, 1989, when the military crushed the weekslong, student-led protests, possibly killing thousands of students, activists and ordinary citizens.

Official silence has been maintained about the incident ever since, with nothing written in school textbooks and public discussion virtually taboo.

The Tiananmen Mothers routinely issue open letters urging the country's leaders to account for the deaths. They have for years called for a full investigation, compensation to victims' families and punishment of those responsible for the military crackdown on student-led protesters. Members say the government has never responded.

Ya's son Ya Aiguo was shot in the head by martial-law troops in Beijing, according to an obituary the support group posted on its website. A testimony by Ya Aiguo's mother on the same site says that at the time, the 22-year-old had been waiting to be assigned a job and had gone out shopping with his girlfriend the evening he was killed.

His father killed himself out of despair and to protest the government's long-standing refusal to address the grievances of the victims' relatives, said Zhang Xianling, who knew Ya and his wife from the support group.

"The government's cold-blooded behavior has caused this tragic ending," said Zhang, who lost a 19-year-old son in the crackdown.

"I hope this incident will make the government circumspect and that such a thing will not happen again," Zhang said. "In this, the government has a responsibility. It owes a life now."

The Chinese government has never fully disclosed what happened when the military crushed the weekslong Tiananmen protests, which it branded a "counterrevolutionary riot." The government has never provided a credible account nor allowed an independent investigation into the events and the fatalities.

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