Jiang Peikun, husband of Tiananmen Mothers leader Ding Zilin, passed away at the age of 82 at his hometown in Wuxi, Jiangsu on Sunday.
Jiang, who died from a heart attack, was a linguistics professor and had served as head of the Philosophy Department’s Aesthetics Institute at the Renmin University of China. His wife Ding was also formerly a professor of philosophy at the university.
Ding founded the political pressure group Tiananmen Mothers, which advocates for the redress of the wrongs of the Tiananmen Massacre, after the couple’s 17-year-old son Jiang Jielian was killed by a bullet as he was heading to Tiananmen Square in 1989. The couple had been put under house arrest many times for their activism work.
The couple’s granddaughter said in an interview with Now TV, “There wasn’t really any dying wish…he passed away very quickly. I don’t think he had any regrets. [Ding] is probably sad, but she said she will continue grandfather’s work…she will keep writing, and she won’t give up on the June Fourth Incident.”
A netizen posted the news on Weibo on Monday, saying “Aesthetician and philosophy professor Jiang Peikun passed away yesterday. My condolences!” Chinese writer Yu Jie also paid his respects to Jiang on Facebook, recounting how national security agents prevented him from saying goodbye to the couple as he was leaving China three years ago, Apple Daily reported.
On the fifth anniversary of the massacre, Jiang wrote an essay entitled “We cannot allow victims to be killed again”. He discussed losing his son and stressed that once evils are forgotten, they will be repeated. “In these five years, I finally have thoughts and dignity of my own, and this was what my son traded his blood and life for.”
Jiang was paralysed after suffering from a stroke in 2008. During his rehabilitation, he continued to take part in the production of The Road of the Tiananmen Mothers, a documentary which followed the lives of those who lost family members in the Tiananmen massacre, RTHK reported.
The Tiananmen events of 1989, also known as the June Fourth Incident, occurred at the end of student-led protests triggered by the death of former Communist Party General Secretary Hu Yaobang, who had been purged due to his liberal, reform-minded political stance.
The demonstrations, which drew a crowd of 1.2 million people to Tiananmen Square at their height, were suppressed when the government sent troops and tanks into the city, killing and injuring many of the protesters. To this day, the PRC government has not apologised for its actions and terms relating to the massacre are heavily censored online. Every year, tens of thousands gather for a candlelight vigil in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park to mourn the victims of the massacre.