Letter from Sian Snow (Mrs. Lois Snow’s daughter) to Madame Ding Zilin
(Chinese Translation by Human Rights in China)
4 August 2018
Dear Madame Ding Zilin,
On behalf of my mother, Lois Snow, who can no longer speak for herself, I want to thank you and the other bereaved mothers for having visited my father’s grave at Peking University every February for the past 18 years.
Your letter describing your visit to the grave on Weiming Lake in February 2018 arrived just one month before my mother died. She was already very ill and could no longer see well, so I read the letter out loud to her. She listened attentively and a smile came to her face. I know that she understood what you wrote because she stopped me every time she missed a word and asked me to repeat it. Your description of the wintery scene and the thoughts you expressed were very moving. I believe that your letter gave my mother a moment of comfort and solace at the end of a long and sometimes difficult life.
I also wish to extend my own thanks to you and the other mothers for visiting my father’s grave. Living so far away, it consoles me to know that Edgar Snow has not been forgotten by those who understand the kind of man he truly was, one who believed in justice, basic human rights and freedom of expression. Your presence at his grave has special meaning because of your peaceful and steadfast struggle to obtain justice and recognition of your basic human and constitutional rights and those of the other families.
When my father travelled to the communist areas as a young journalist in 1936, he sought to report on the facts as truthfully as possible at a time of great turmoil, uncertainty and suffering in China. He defied a travel ban and put his life in danger to find answers to pressing questions about the communists – who they were, what they wanted and whether they were prepared to form a united front against foreign invasion. He was doing his job as a reporter.
Of course, my father was far from infallible, as he readily admitted. He made errors and failed to understand certain things, especially in later years when China was closed to the outside world and information was tightly controlled. He reported on what he saw – but he could not report on what he did not (or was not allowed to) see.
People mistakenly say that my father was a friend to Mao. If my father was a friend to anyone, it was to the Chinese people whose suffering – from war, famine and other scourges – he witnessed first-hand. For many years, he worked to promote peaceful coexistence between China and the United States and to report on the facts as accurately as possible. Towards the end of his life, he no doubt realized that important facts had been hidden from him and this deeply disturbed him – but he was already very ill and close to death.
Your struggle for truth and reconciliation, for accountability and for the right to mourn your loved ones and to receive humanitarian aid is one that I believe my father would have supported, as did my mother and my brother. I have great respect for your peaceful campaign to obtain redress for the suffering you and the other families have endured and for your courage in standing your ground.
With my best wishes,