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China payment for 1989 victim a first - activist

Written by: Staff
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BEIJING, Apr 30 (Reuters) Chinese authorities have made a payment to the mother of a youth killed during the 1989 crackdown on mass protests, the first time that a victim's family has been compensated, a rights activist said today.

Tang Deying campaigned for 17 years to win redress since her son, Zhou Guocong, died in police detention on June 6, 1989, in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, a Chengdu-based activist told Reuters on Sunday.

Chengdu police recently gave Tang 70,000 yuan (8,735 dollars) as ''hardship assistance'', activist Huang Qi, who has publicised her case, announced on his Web site (www.64tianwang.com) yesterday.

He and other Chinese rights campaigners said it appeared to be the first substantial compensation paid to relatives of a victim of the crackdown.

Ding Zilin, a Beijing professor whose teenage son was shot dead by troops in 1989, said authorities might be making concessions to ensure a ''harmonious atmosphere'' as the anniversary of the June 4 crackdown looms, the Hong Kong-based Apple Daily reported yesterday.

Zhou, a 15-year old factory worker, was detained after soldiers and police staged a nationwide sweep against protesters and bystanders caught up in the anti-government protests that erupted in Chinese cities in 1989, paralysing administration and dividing the ruling Communist Party.

The Party leadership ordered troops to move on Beijing's Tiananmen Square, the epicentre of the protests, early on June 4.

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of demonstrators were shot dead in the capital, and thousands of citizens were detained across the country, international human rights groups say.

Zhou was riding his bicycle home from work when police detained him, according to a complaint lodged by his mother.

Zhou died after being beaten in a police cell, she said. Photos of his corpse showed bruises and cuts, but he was cremated without an investigation. Since then Tang has waged a constant campaign of petitions and visits to officials in a bid to win redress for her son.

Huang said the case might not presage other compensation payments to the families of crackdown victims.

''This was a special case because we have the photos [of Zhou's corpse] on the Internet, and because his mother was so persistent,'' Huang said.

He said Tang and other members of Zhou's family did not want to speak to the media, fearing recriminations.

Reuters SI DB1201

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