Sunday, June 06, 2004

Anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre

(from the Victims of Tiananmen Massacre image page on

Friday 4th was the 15th anniversary of the massacre of activists after protests in Tiananmen Square. I can't add much to what has been said by many people, but I can provide some links:

The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, on Wikipedia, a participatory web encyclopaedia.

The Guardian's Jonathan Watts on the Chinese government's abduction of activists to prevent protest on the anniversary.
Jiang Yanyong, [the doctor who exposed the SARS cover-up last year and] a leading democracy campaigner, was reported missing along with his wife by their daughter yesterday.

He is likely to be among dozens of people - including elderly mothers, young dissidents and ailing reformers - put under house arrest or taken out of Beijing by security agents. [...]

The clampdown on commemorations of the massacre - unreported in the domestic media - has led to the detention of dozens of people, including the mothers of students killed by soldiers in 1989.

"There are police outside my house who won't let me leave until after the anniversary," said one, Ding Zilin. "It would have been my son's 32nd birthday today. I have ordered a cake because I want to celebrate; I'm very proud of what my son tried to do."

Hu Jia, who was a teenager in 1989, has been arrested three times this year for trying to lay flowers in Tiananmen Square. Since March 22, he says, four public security agents have prevented him from leaving home.

"I will light some candles here to remember what happened," he said. "The Communist party is trying to split up activists, to prevent us from uniting, but the truth cannot be covered up. When the control is strictest, the urge to rebel grows stronger."

But at Beijing University few people were aware of today's anniversary. "Most young students don't know about Tiananmen because the media never raises the topic," a postgraduate said. [...]

Memories are clearer in the Liu Bu Kou neighbourhood, where residents provided food and drink to the students in 1989 before the tanks and soldiers opened fire.

"It was a terrifying time," a resident said. "One man in this street was shot dead just for putting his head out the window to see what was going on."

"We all wanted change. We still do but everyone is too scared to do anything now. Students can't fight tanks - but we can hope."

The Guardian also has a selection of quotes from the New York Times and Asian newspapers about the anniversary and an Associated Press report reporting detentions in Beijing and "vigils, marches and hunger strikes in Hong Kong, Washington and Taipei."

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