The father of a young protester who was killed during the crackdown on the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square has hanged himself after more than 20 years of seeking justice for his son, a human rights group said yesterday.
The body of 73-year-old Ya Weilin was found in an disused car park underneath his apartment building in Beijing. He is believed to have hanged himself on Friday, the Tiananmen Mothers group, of which he was an active member, said in a statement. Mr Ya took his own life just days before the anniversary of the crackdown by the military on the student-led protests which centred on Tiananmen Square.
The tanks rolled in on the night of 3-4 June, 1989, and thousands of students and workers died, including Mr Ya's son, Ya Aiguo. The 22-year-old Ya Aiguo was shot in the head by troops, after he went out shopping with his girlfriend, the group said.
"Every year, [Ya Weilin] joined the open letter signature campaign to demand a just resolution on the issue of June Fourth and also closely monitored the response from the government," the statement said. "He endured the passage of time for more than twenty years. His prolonged grief and depression finally led to despair."
Mr Ya's family said he had left a note in which he repeated the details of his son's death and said that he was prepared to die in protest because the issue of his son's death had not been addressed.
Every year, the Tiananmen Mothers issue an open letter calling for a full probe into what happened on that night. They want compensation for the victims and have called for the leadership to be held to account. The group has also compiled a list of at least 203 people killed in the June 1989 crackdown.
The Chinese government's official line is that the demonstrations, which went on for weeks, were a "counter-revolutionary riot" which had to be crushed for China's greater good. Despite repeated calls, the authorities have never sanctioned an independent investigation into the events of 1989.