Today, we announce with immense sorrow that Mr. Ya Weilin (轧伟林), father of Ya Aiguo (轧爱国), a victim of June Fourth government crackdown on the 1989 protests, and a key member of the Tiananmen Mothers, committed suicide by hanging himself on May 25. He was 73 years old.
Ya Weilin and his wife, Ms. Zhang Zhenxia (张振霞), an affectionate couple, have two sons. The younger son, Ya Aiguo was shot in the head by martial law troops in the vicinity of Gongzhufen (公主坟) in Beijing around 10 p.m. in the evening of June 3, 1989, and later died in the No. 301 Hospital. He was 22 years old. His family members were not able to locate his body until June 5. They buried him in Tianjin, their hometown.
Mr. Ya Weilin was a retired employee of the Food Department of the Second Institute of the Nuclear Industry Ministry. Since the Tiananmen Mothers contacted them in the 1990s, Mr. Ya and his wife had actively participated in the group’s protest activities without hesitation. Despite police intimidation and surveillance for many times, they never wavered.
Mr. Ya was usually in good health. He was introverted, honest and conscientious in his work. Every year, he 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. He endured the passage of time for more than twenty years. His prolonged grief and depression finally led to despair.
According to his wife and his older son, they found a piece of paper on Ya recently, with the following written on it: his name, work unit, and, more importantly, information on his son’s death in the 1989 Tiananmen, that this grievance had not been redressed for more than 20 years, and that he would fight to his death. At that time, he was dissuaded by his family members from taking any action.
In the end, at 10 a.m. on May 24, 2012, on the eve of the 23rd anniversary of June Fourth, Mr. Ya left home. Family members and relatives looked everywhere but could not find him. After 24 hours, they reported to the local police, seeking help to find him but to no avail. In the afternoon of May 25, three family members found Mr. Ya body in a newly-constructed, un-used underground parking garage of the building where the couple lived, which belongs to the Second Institute of the Nuclear Industry Ministry.
The police immediately sent personnel and vehicles to cordon off the area, and moved Mr. Ya’s body away. His remains were cremated this morning, May 27.
The death of Mr. Ya—an ordinary citizen who, having given up hope in his long-term demand, ended his life in such a resolute way to protest the government’s brutality—is a new sin that has been added to old un-redressed grievances.
The death of Ya Weilin and his son are tragedies directly wrought by the Chinese government. The news of Mr. Ya’s death shocked us, the Tiananmen Mothers, like a sword piercing through our hearts. We want to cry but have no more tears; want to tell the world but have no more words.
Ms. Zhang Zhenxia, suffering from severe rheumatoid arthritis, has lost a good husband who helped her through the hard times and took good care of her. We, the Tiananmen Mothers, have, once again, lost a good brother and partner.
We strongly condemn the Chinese Communist authorities’ cold-blooded behavior against humanity and demand an immediate return of Mr. Ya’s suicide note to his family members.
We are closely monitoring developments of the situation and call on all Chinese people globally and in China as well as the international community to coordinate their efforts to urge the Chinese government to justly resolve the June Fourth issue and not let the tragedy like Mr. Ya Weilin happen again.
The death of Ya Weilin completely changes the tenor of this year's commemoration of June 4 -- the anniversary of Tiananmen Square's bloody massacre, which took the life of Ya Aiguo. It is very arguably true that the Tiananmen crackdown continues today, because we know that justice was never served; there has been no redress of the people's grievances; and pro-democracy advocates continue to languish in jail (Wang Bingzhang, Liu Xiaobo, and Zhou Yongjun are three pro-democracy dissidents now in captivity).
The crackdown is still with us, and the crackdown has just taken another life: that of Ya Weilin. For the third time this year, the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) has a black mark of shame, a public humilation that has been added to its long record of disreputable behaviors and unfortunate outcomes for the people of China.
The China Support Network, from 1989-2005, estimated 3,000 deaths in the Tiananmen crackdown. In 2005, the death of Zhao Ziyang prompted us to "estimate" 3,001. Today, with the death of Ya Weilin, we are raising our estimate to note that at least 3,002 are dead in this ongoing, brutal, and vicious Tiananmen crackdown -- still happening in mainland Red China.