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Legal document - request for a thorough official investigation of the June 4 Massacre

January 31, 1999


Supplementary petition to the Supreme People's Procuratorate

for a thorough investigation of the June Fourth Massacre


On May 17, 1999, we, the June Fourth victims and victims' families, submitted to the Supreme People's Procuratorate of the People's Republic of China a petition for a thorough investigation of the "June Fourth Incident" in order to bring to justice those responsible for the crimes of the massacre, including former Premier Li Peng. We hereby submit supplementary materials.

To the Supreme People's Procuratorate of the People's Republic of China

From June 3 to 6, 1989, the People's Liberation Army, the People's Armed Police (PAP), and personnel from the Ministry of Public Security, acting under the State Council's command for martial law, violently cracked down on the peaceful civilian demonstrations of students and other Beijing residents. This resulted in hundreds and perhaps thousands of deaths and many more injuries. Much evidence has shown that while implementing martial law in Beijing, China's armed forces randomly shot civilians without warning, intentionally killed many students and other Beijing residents, and improperly used weapons causing civilian casualties. The acts of those armed personnel constitute crimes and should be punished according to law, including the Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China (1979) and the Regulations on Punishing Soldiers Violating Their Duties (1980), as well as the relevant rules on the proper use of weapons by police and on self-defense. We, the June Fourth victims and victims' families, hereby request that the Supreme People's Procuratorate either file a case investigating those crimes committed during the period of martial law or order the Ministry of Public Security and the Public Security Bureau of Beijing to investigate the crimes, initiate prosecutions in the relevant courts, and bring those responsible to justice.

I.  The criminal facts of the June Fourth Massacre

A.  Intentional Killing
According to Article 132 of the 1979 Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China (hereafter the 1979 Criminal Law) as well as Article 232 of the 1997 revised Criminal Law (hereafter the 1997 Criminal Law), those committing the crime of intentional killing should be punished by more than ten years' imprisonment, a life sentence, or death. Intentional killing, in which one deprives another's life illegally and intentionally, is one of the most serious crimes infringing on a citizen's personal rights. According to Article 11 of the 1979 Criminal Law, an intentional crime can be committed either with "direct intention" or with "indirect intention." "Direct intention" refers to cases in which one commits a crime with clear knowledge that one's own act will cause socially dangerous consequences, and with hope for the occurrence of those consequences. "Indirect intention" refers to cases in which one commits a crime with clear knowledge that one's own act will cause socially dangerous consequences, while demonstrating indifference to the occurrence of those consequences.

The evidence that we collected demonstrates that during the implementation of martial law, some armed personnel indiscriminately fired live ammunition into the crowds without giving effective warning, causing a great number of civilian casualties. These soldiers engaged in activity inconsistent with the nature of implementing martial law and in fact committed intentional killing. These intentional killings can be found in the following facts:

1) The armed personnel should have reasonably known that firing live ammunition into the crowd would have substantially jeopardized the lives of civilians. However, they chose to ignore such highly possible consequences and randomly shot innocent civilians, which factually constitutes the crime of intentional killings. The following are testimonies from eyewitnesses and June Fourth victims' families:

  • "At about 11:00pm on June 3, the martial law troops sent an infantry division from west to east over Muxudi Bridge. An order was given and all the soldiers lay down, except for one who, kneeling like an old woman, used his assault rifle to spray the street with bullets.?quot; (See testimony of Yuan Kezhi.)
  • "On June 3, 1989, sometime after 10:00pm, we went back from my parent's home to our own place...We had almost reached Zhushikou when we heard gunfire....[W]e heard people shout, "They're shooting!" We hurried along the road, which was thronged with people. People everywhere were running. But the army had already reached us. They came from the south and were heading north. These soldiers wore full battle array, with big helmets, and they were running and shooting simultaneously.?quot; (See testimony of Zhang Qiuyan.)
  • According to the husband of Ma Chengfeng, who died in the massacre, Ma was shot to death while the army was randomly firing into the alleys close to the Fuwai overpass near Muxudi. (See testimony of Du Dongxu)
  • "It was about 1:20am on June 4. From [Xirongxian] Alley...I saw several soldiers in camouflage with assault rifles running up from the left. There was no time to hide. I suddenly fell and felt that I had been shot in the leg...." (See testimony of Qi Zhiyong.)
  • According to the mother of Peng Jun, who died in the massacre, Peng was shot to death by soldiers while he was out buying breakfast on the morning of June 5. (See testimony of Liu Shuqin.)
  • According to the mother of victim Jiang Jielian, there was intense gunfire at Muxudi, and Jiang was among those killed in the shooting. (See testimony of Ding Zilin.)
  • Yang Yansheng of China Sports News, was shot at the Zhengyi intersection by a soldier shooting randomly from an armored vehicle. (See testimony of Huang Jinping.)

2) The way that armed personnel fired live ammunition also demonstrated intentional killing. Our evidence indicates that some of the victims were shot from behind. For example, Dai Wei, a Beijing resident, was hit from behind, and the bullet exited from his chest. Jiang Jielian, a student at the high school of People's University, was killed by a bullet that entered the left back and shot through the heart. Kuang Min and Peng Jun were also shot in the back. (See testimonies of Kuang Diqing and Liu Shuqin.)

3) Some victims had more than two fatal wounds or had a bayonet wound beside a gunshot wound, which suggests that the use of force by armed personnel was excessive and unnecessary--constituting intentional killing or assault against civilians. For instance, Wu Guofeng had several wounds on the head, arm, shoulder and chest respectively; in addition, he had a 7 to 8 cm long bayonet wound on the stomach. (See testimony of Wu Dingfu and Song Xiuling.) Su Bingxian, the mother of a victim, witnessed a body with many bayonet wounds in the stomach during the search for her son's body at Fuxing Hospital. (See testimony of Su Bingxian.)

4) Some evidence indicates that armed personnel may have used explosive bullets during the martial law. Some victims, according to the evidence we collected, were shot by a so-called "exploding bullets" (zha zi). So-called "exploding bullets" refer to a special kind of bullet that explodes after penetration and causes extensive physical damage. According to relevant international treaties, such bullets should be prohibited even in international armed conflicts. (See Article 35 of the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), which prohibits the use of weapons that inflict excessive injury.) However, Chinese armed personnel used this kind of bullet against unarmed civilians, which could only lead to the conclusion that those soldiers had the intention of killing or assaulting civilians. Here are some examples: Wu Xiangdong was shot by such a bullet which penetrated his body and created an exit wound obviously larger than the entry wound, with both wounds appearing burnt. (See testimony of Xu Jue.) Chen Laishun was hit by an "exploding bullet" on the left side of his head (See testimony of Zhang Shusen.) Yang Ruting was shot in the chest; a bullet penetrated his body and exploded in the back, resulting in a big hole. (See the testimony of Guo Liying.) Other victims of such explosive bullets include Kuang Min and Yang Minghu. (See testimonies of Kuang Diqing and You Weijie.) An "exploding bullet" hit Zhang XX's leg. Despite a series of operations, he is permanently disabled. (See testimony of Zhang XX.)

In short, the soldiers and other armed personnel used force indiscriminately against unarmed civilians and even employed bayonets and tanks to kill and assault civilians. All of these acts constitute the crime of intentional killing defined under Article 132 of the 1979 Criminal Law. The authorities should file a case to investigate such crimes and bring those responsible to justice.

B.  Intentional Injury

According to Article 134 of the 1979 Criminal Law, "Whoever intentionally injures the person of another is to be sentenced to not more than three years of fixed-term imprisonment or criminal detention. Whoever commits the crime in the preceding paragraph and causes a person's serious injury is to be sentenced to not less than three years and not more than seven years of fixed-term imprisonment; if he causes a person's death he is to be sentenced to not less than seven years of fixed-term imprisonment or life imprisonment." According to the 1997 Criminal Law, causing death or serious deformity by badly injuring a person with particularly ruthless means can be punishable by death. (See the 1997 Criminal Law, Article 234.) Thus the crime of intentional injury is among the most serious crimes directly infringing upon personal rights in China's criminal code. The crime of intentional injury can also be committed either with direct intention or with indirect intention.

The armed personnel who used highly-dangerous weaponry such as automatic rifles and tanks to carry out martial law should have reasonably realized that firing such weapons into the crowd would pose a great danger to civilians. However, they chose to ignore or show indifference to the occurrence of these consequences. As a result, their acts caused many injuries, thus constituting the crime of intentional injury. (See Articles 11 and 133 of the 1979 Criminal Law.)

According to the testimony of wounded victim Zhang XX, he was shot in the right leg at the Xidan intersection in the early morning of June 4, while he was hiding from soldiers. He underwent several surgeries and is permanently disabled. (See testimony of Zhang XX.) Qi Zhiyong, was shot by the soldiers in combat uniform on the morning of June 4. His right leg no longer functions normally. (See testimony of Qi Zhiyong.) Fang Zheng, a student of the Beijing Academy of Physical Science, lost both his legs in the crackdown. A tank crushed his legs when he was trying to save the life of his classmate. (See testimony of Fang Zheng.)

C.  Some martial law soldiers may have violated the Tentative Regulations on Punishing Soldiers Who Violate Their Duties (hereafter the Regulations on Punishing Soldiers), by killing and assaulting non-violent civilians. These regulations were passed by the Standing Committee of National People's Congress on June 10, 1981.

Article 20 of the Regulations on Punishing Soldiers provides that whoever loots, assaults or kills civilians during military actions is to be sentenced to no more than seven years of fixed-term imprisonment. Those committing the above-said acts with serious circumstances is sentenced to more than seven years of fixed-term imprisonment. When the circumstances are extremely serious, he should be sentenced to life or the death penalty.

According to our evidence, some soldiers, while implementing martial law, fired automatic weapons into an unarmed crowd, drove tanks over civilians and caused immense damage to civilian life and property. (See testimonies.) Their acts constitute the crime of killing and assaulting civilians defined by the Regulations on Punishing Soldiers and they should be punished in accordance with the provisions of the law.

D.  Some armed personnel may have violated the Rules on Proper Use of Weapons by the People's Police (hereafter the Rules on Proper Use of Weapons) and the Detailed Rules on Self-Defense by People's Police While on Duty, jointly issued by the Supreme People's Court, Supreme People's Procuratorate, Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of State Security, and Ministry of Justice (hereafter the Detailed Rules on Self-Defense), constituting abuse which bears criminal responsibility.

Article 3 of the Rules on Proper Use of Weapons (promulgated by the State Council on July 5, 1980) permits the people's police to fire live ammunition only under the following circumstances:

1) Without firing live ammunition, the people's police cannot stop crimes such as violent resistance, forceful taking of weapons, violent violation of an officer's body, as well as escape during arrest, detention or transfer of prisoners.

2) Without firing live ammunition, the people's police cannot stop law-breaking situations like criminals committing violence, endangering social order and posing large risks to peoples' lives.

3) Without firing live ammunition, the people's police cannot prevent an object of official protection from being violently attacked or from being threatened by violent attack.

4) Without firing live ammunition, the people's police cannot stop criminals from rescuing prisoners or stop prisoners from escaping, rioting, forcefully taking weapons from guards, and violently attacking others.

5) Without firing live ammunition, the people's police cannot carry out effective self-defense.

Furthermore, the Article requires that police give a warning before firing and stop firing when the criminals have shown submission.

Article 3 of the 1983 Detailed Rules on Self-defense stipulates that the people's police should stop self-defense immediately after the following circumstances occur:

  • Illegal violations have reached completion.
  • Illegal violations have discontinued.
  • Illegal violations have been stopped or the perpetrator of the illegal violation has lost ability of carrying out any further harmful conduct. (See Article 3 of these rules.)

Moreover, the people's police are required to avoid harming others when they are conducting self-defense. (See Article 6.) Those using excessive force and causing unnecessary harm in carrying out self-defense should bear criminal responsibility (Article 5). It should be noted that that these provisions also apply to most law enforcement officers including personnel from the courts, prosecutorial offices, public security departments, state security departments and other judicial administrative organs (Article 7).

Our evidence demonstrates that the armed personnel, including the PAP and personnel from the public security departments failed to observe the above-said legal provisions, used excessive force, improperly fired live ammunition, and caused immense loss of human life. They should be held responsible under the Rules on Proper Use of Weapons, the Detailed Rules on Self-defense, as well as the 1979 Criminal Law.

E.  Accountability of Chinese Leaders in the June Fourth Massacre

By the various official reports and documents released before and after the June Fourth Massacre, we firmly believe that the crimes of the crackdown were not isolated incidents. Leaders both in the government and the army should bear direct or indirect responsibilities.

1) Li Peng, a major leader and then prime minister of China, was responsible for issuing the order of martial law. As a head of the government, he should have reasonably known that the demonstrations by students and Beijing residents was peaceful. Any knowledgeable government would not have taken such extremely repressive measures against demonstrations that were non-violent and rational. However, in May and June of 1989, Li Peng declared martial law in parts of Beijing and deployed troops to brutally crack down on Beijing students and residents. He bears inexcusable responsibility for the great number of civilian casualties that resulted from his unjustifiable order for martial law in the Beijing area.

During the process of implementing martial law, Li Peng, as head of the State Council, should have been aware of the military actions and should have realistically known the extent of civilian casualties. However, he failed to stop the cruel killings of civilians by the army and other armed personnel. Thus he should bear inexcusable responsibility. After the crackdown, Li Peng did not order any investigation, but tried to cover up these crimes. Furthermore, he publicly praised the so-called "achievement" made by the army and the participants of martial law.

Additionally, under the direct supervision of Li Peng, the government of China (through organs of the Ministry of Public Security and Ministry of State Security), has engaged in the long-term repression and persecution of June Fourth victims and their families, depriving them of normal lives. The government spares no efforts in hiding the truth from the public. The authorities force the victims and their families to keep silent on the tragedy, so that the truth of June Fourth remains in the shadows and those responsible remain unpunished. For this, Li Peng should also bear inexcusable responsibility.

Based upon the above reasons, we strongly request that the Supreme People's Procuratorate list Li Peng as a primary suspect for the crimes of June Fourth.

2) The Supreme People's Procuratorate should order the relevant military procuratorates and the military departments of criminal investigation to make inquiries into the roles of the military leaders responsible for army operation and the senior officers responsible for daily operations for the period that those crimes occurred. A large amount of evidence points to the conclusion that the crimes committed by the soldiers against unarmed civilians during martial law were not isolated incidents. The only logical explanation behind this is that these soldiers may have received orders to conduct such crimes. We hereby strongly request that the Supreme People's Procuratorate list Yang Baibing, Zhang Gong, and other major senior military officers of the time as suspects for these crimes.

3) Chen Xitong, then mayor of Beijing; Li Ximing, then Beijing party-secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, and Yuan Mu, the spokesman for the State Council on the crackdown, should also be listed as primary suspects. They intentionally provided inaccurate and wrongful information on the student movement, which led to the formulation of martial law in Beijing. After the crackdown, they spared no efforts in concealing the truth and prevented the authorities from investigating the crimes. Thus they should bear inexcusable responsibility. We hereby request that Chen Xitong, Li Ximing and Yuan Mu be listed as primary suspects for these crimes.

4) According to China's Criminal Procedure Law, a deceased person cannot be prosecuted posthumously for the crimes that he committed. However, considering the major roles played by Deng Xiaoping, Yang Shangkun and other senior leaders of the time, in the crackdown and the above-mentioned crimes, a thorough investigation of their involvement would be very helpful in clarifying the case. For this, we firmly request the authorities to conduct a comprehensive investigation of their acts.

II. Legal basis for an official investigation into the crimes of the June Fourth Massacre

The people's procuratorate is the legal supervisory organ of the People's Republic of China. (See Article 129 of the Constitution of the PRC.) On the state's behalf, its main duties include the investigation and prosecution of crimes that have occurred within the territory of the People's Republic of China. Its concrete responsibilities include the investigation of crimes directly under its jurisdiction, the transfer to the relevant criminal investigation department of cases not under its direct jurisdiction, and the filing of public prosecution on the state's behalf after the criminal investigation has been completed. Moreover, the 1996 revised Criminal Procedure Law of the People's Republic of China authorizes the people's procuratorate the final power to order an official investigation of any crime (Article 87).

We, hereby in accordance with Article 84 of the Criminal Procedure Law, report to the Supreme People's Procuratorate the major crimes that occurred during martial law in Beijing from June 3 to June 6, 1989 and request that the Supreme People's Procuratorate, in accordance with Articles 84 and 87, order the relevant public security departments to conduct a thorough and official investigation of the crimes, clarify the facts, determine the responsibilities of the various people in the crimes, and bring to justice those responsible.

Ten years have passed since June Fourth. But it should be noted that throughout the last decade, there has been a policy of censorship on June Fourth and continued persecution of June Fourth victims and victims' families by the public security and state security departments. Due to the official harassment and interference, our personal liberties are not guaranteed. Needless to say, we were hindered in effectively collecting evidence and submitting it to the authorities in a timely manner. According to China's Criminal Law, the time limitations for some of the June Fourth crimes may have elapsed (e.g. intentional injury and improper self-defense). However, the majority of the crimes we mention here is still within the time limitation for prosecution: for example, intentional killing, killing and assaulting civilians, and intentional injury with serious consequences. (See Article 76 of the 1979 Criminal Law and Article 87 of the 1997 Criminal Law.) We request that the Supreme People's Procuratorate consider the actual circumstances of history and the facts of obstruction by relevant state offices to extend the time limitation for prosecution of some crimes in order to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.

Finally, we would like to express our opinion on the issue of immunity for the crimes committed by state officials in carrying out their duties. Generally, a state official can be exempted from legal responsibility if he commits a crime purely in carrying out his legal obligation. However state officials should still bear responsibility for his own acts which are inconsistent with his legal duty. Thus the criminal responsibility of state officials must be investigated and punished in accordance with the provisions of the law.

In short, we, as victims and victims' families, resolutely request that the Supreme People's Procuratorate, in accordance with law, directly conduct an investigation or order an official investigation of the above-mentioned crimes, and bring all those responsible to justice.

May 21, 1999

Requestors: the same as those listed in the first request made on May 15.

[105 individuals total]