Thousands of Chinese crowded Tienanmen Square in a peaceful celebration of the third anniversary of Premier Chou En-lai's death, highlighted by an unusual march by peasants protesting bad conditions in the countryside.
The 100 to 200 marchers swung past the Heroes Monument in Tienanmen Square, where people had laid hundreds of memorial wreathes for Chou, and down the Avenue of Eternal Peace past the compound that houses the main government offices. Their banners decried hunger and oppression and identified the marchers as "Victims of the Gang of Four from all the provinces of China."
A few of the peasant marchers arrived in town over the weekend. One appeared at Democracy Wall, the line of wallposters along the Avenue of Eternal Peace, yesterday and harangued onlookers on unjust political charges made against him. He displayed a rotting bedroll and a small basket as his only possessions.
There was no apparent repeat of the violence that flared briefly last night at the Heroes Monument when a youth tried to take away two paper flowers from a wreath for Chou and was beaten by several men.
The Gang of Four, a Politburo clique led by the wife of the late chairman Mao Tse-tung, had caused a major riot in 1976 when they prematurely removed wreaths placed at the monument by mourners who supported Chou's efforts to raise living standards.