by Bao Tong
No sooner had Lin Mu left us, than He Jiadong went too. Both Lin and He understood that the Chinese people are not slaves, and that they should enjoy the rights of citizens. They both sacrificed themselves unreservedly for this very ordinary yet very lofty ideal. Their fellows in that struggle are every Chinese person who doesn’t want to lose his freedom.
He Jiadong was at the peak of his reputation in the 1950s and 60s, in the last century. At that time he was a youthful idealist. There is no one in the top echelons of the Chinese Communist Party now who didn’t receive a baptism with his “Give all to the Party,” and “My family.” No one who hasn’t been moved by “Zhao Yiman,” or “Fang Zhimin’s lifelong battle.” He was the author of these burning brands of advocacy journalism and an ardent proponent of communism throughout his life.
But He Jiadong was also a practitioner of truth-telling and truth-seeking. He twice got into trouble for editing and publishing articles by Liu Binyan, “Internal news at this paper” and “A higher kind of loyalty.” He Jiadong has now finally found the truth he was seeking all his life: Freedom, autonomy, and democracy.
Lin Mu was Hu Yaobang’s right-hand man. Hu was originally the secretary-general of the Communist Party Youth League. He was made central government second secretary for the northwest of China and provincial Party secretary for Shaanxi province in 1964 or 1965, where he set in motion cutting-edge reforms. Lin was then deputy head of the general secretariat for Shaanxi province, and he was cruelly punished for his steadfast support for Hu’s reform program. He served two jail terms and was expelled twice from the Party, and he served nine years of reform-through-labor.
With the rehabilitation of Hu Yaobang, miscarriages of justice began to be overturned, and Lin Mu was made head of the technological cadres bureau in the Ministry of Labor and Human Resources and Party secretary of the Industrial University of Northwest China.
In 1989, Lin supported and took part in the student-led pro-democracy movement, which led to his being expelled from the Party for the third time. He continued to do his utmost to speak out for human rights. According to an account given recently by Liu Xiaobo, Lin made a personal journey to Beijing in 1995 to call for tolerance and a re-evaluation of the official verdict on the June 4 crackdown alongside Xu Liangying and Ding Zilin.
This open letter, spearheaded by academic Wang Ganchang, brought together a large group of people including the respected Yang Xianyi, Wu Zuguang, Lou Shiyi, Zhou Fucheng, Fan Dainian, Wang Zisong, Bao Zunxin, Wang Ruoshui, Tang Yijie, and Le Daiyun. It didn’t have the desired effect and was callously wiped out by the authorities. But the force of justice is a fearless thing, and this was just one more expression of the iron will of the people, battered but not broken.
Rest in peace, He Jiadong and Lin Mu! At this time in our history, we are singing your praises to a popular theme these days, “A Harmonious Society.” But at the edge of our awareness we hear the deep music of another funeral procession 61 years ago, on Dec. 1, 1945, when the students of Kunming made similar eulogies to four martyrs of their struggle, crying:
“Now the responsibility falls to us, to continue the fight for democracy and freedom!”
Translated from the Chinese by Luisetta Mudie.