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Each year around the “sensitive” anniversary of the Beijing massacre of June 4, 1989, Ding Zilin, a seventy-four-year-old retired professor of philosophy, is accompanied by a group of plainclothes police whenever she leaves her apartment to go buy vegetables, or to do anything else. Her son, Jiang Jielian, was killed in the massacre by a bullet in the back, and very soon thereafter Ding decided—unlike other parents who had lost children—to defy the government’s demand that the families of victims keep quiet and absorb their losses in private. She organized a group called “Tiananmen Mothers” and, in her speaking and writing ever since, has essentially said to the regime: say what you like, and do what you will, but my mind belongs to me and you cannot have it.
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