One of those gunned down in the mayhem was a young man by the name of Jiang Jielian.
On the night of June 3, 1989, as the Chinese People’s Liberation Army began clearing the Square, Jiang ignored his mother’s pleas for him to stay home.
He struggled out of her arms, ran to the bathroom, locked the door behind him, climbed out of the window, and headed toward Tiananmen. Jiang was shot in the back.
The bullet pierced his heart and he bled to death.
Twenty-four hours earlier he had celebrated his 17th birthday.
To this day, the Chinese government has not acknowledged responsibility for the killing of unarmed citizens; nor has there been an official tally of how many perished in what Chinese media refer to as “the political turbulence of 1989."
Jiang Jielian’s mother, Ding Zilin, refuses to give up hope.
Her only child’s ashes rest in an alcove in the tiny apartment she shares with her husband.
The 71-year-old former professor is the driving force behind Tiananmen Mothers, an advocacy group that regularly petitions China’s leaders and members of parliament for an official apology and full inquiry into the shootings.
Ding’s persistence has made her a target of retaliation and intimidation.
Over the years, she has been subjected to constant surveillance, frequent house arrest, and occasional detention.
Last Wednesday, Tiananmen Mothers launched the group’s official websiteWeb Link.
The digital database includes a roster containing the names and bios of 188 known victims, a virtual monument in their honor, eyewitness accounts, and testimonials from members of the group on their long and tortuous ordeal.