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Last Updated: Sunday, 30 April 2006, 18:07 GMT 19:07 UK
China makes 1989 Tiananmen payout
A man tries to stop Chinese tanks in 1989
Suppression of the protests sparked worldwide shock and anger
A Chinese mother whose son died in the aftermath of the 1989 pro-democracy protests has received a payout from the authorities, a rights activist says.

Tang Deying was given 70,000 yuan ($8,745) in "hardship assistance" by officials in the south-west city of Chengdu, local activist Huang Qi said.

Zhou Guocong,15, died in police custody in Chengdu days after the suppression of the Tiananmen Square protests.

But other relatives say they doubt this marks a start to compensation payouts.

The Chinese authorities have consistently claimed their actions in June 1989 were justified.

Nationwide crackdown

Huang Qi hailed the payout as a "breakthrough", saying Tang Deying had campaigned for justice for the last 17 years.

"It's the first time that compensation has been paid for a victim of the 1989 events," he told the AFP news agency.

15 April: Reformist leader Hu Yaobang dies
22 April: Hu's memorial service. Thousands call for faster reforms
13 May: Students begin hunger strike as power struggle grips Communist Party
15 May: Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev visits China
19 May: Zhao makes tearful appeal to students in Tiananmen Square to leave
20 May: Martial law declared in Beijing
3-4 June: Security forces clear the square, killing hundreds

The award was welcomed by Beijing activist Ding Zilin whose son was killed during the protests, but she said it was unlikely to indicate a softening in the government's stance.

"This is a first, but I must point out that hardship assistance does not amount to compensation," she told the Associated Press news agency.

"Compensation would signify that the government admitted it had wrongly killed someone, but I don't see such an admission in this case".

Hundreds of demonstrators were killed when the authorities sent in tanks to Tiananmen Square on 3-4 June 1989 to break up the mass protests calling for greater freedoms.

In the days that followed, police carried out a nationwide crackdown of protesters and bystanders caught up in similar movements in other cities around the country.

Mr Zhou is thought to have been beaten to death while in police custody. Although he was cremated, photos of his body showing the cuts and bruises later emerged.

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