Mothers of Tiananmen dead fight to keep truth alive

Mothers of Tiananmen dead fight to keep truth alive
Paramilitary policemen march at the Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

BEIJING - The last thing Zhang Xianling told her son was not to go to Tiananmen Square. But in the 25 years since he was shot and left to die she has taken up his activist mantle.

The crackdown that ended on June 4, 1989, left hundreds dead - by some estimates, more than 1,000 - and a nation stunned that its leaders had deployed troops, tanks and real bullets against student-led protesters in the vast plaza at the heart of China's capital.

Zhang's 19-year-old son Wang Nan bled to death over several hours after being shot in the head and denied medical care, and was buried nearby.

Now 76, Zhang has become one of the leaders of the "Tiananmen Mothers".

The group of parents bereaved by the bloody suppression, more than 100 strong, seek to hold the ruling Communist party to account over events they have tried to wipe from the pages of Chinese history.

"What they want is for people not to know about the incident, to let it be forgotten," Zhang told AFP by phone, as she and other parents are under round-the-clock surveillance ahead of the anniversary.

"But with the Internet so developed these days, lies will not be able to bury the truth," she said.

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