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China: Beijing cracks the whip in run-up to Tiananmen Massacre anniversary

News Agencies | Updated on: 2 June 2022, 9:07 IST
University students clean the "Pillar of Shame" statue at the University of Hong Kong on June 4, 2021. (Image credit: Reuters)

Ahead of the 33rd anniversary on June 4 of the Tiananmen massacre, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has undertaken various pre-emptive measures to ensure that no pro-democracy or anti-CCP programs or protests are organized.

A number of dissidents and human rights activists, including Ji Xiaolong from Shanghai, Chen Jianxiong from Hubei, Wang Chenggang from Dalian, and Long Kehai from Chengdu have been detained by the authorities under various charges.

Another well-known Chinese writer and human rights advocate Zhang Yihe, who has regularly been posting on social media, has been advised (May 26) by her employer, "China Academy of Arts", not to grant an interview to foreign media without prior approval of the institution and to invariably report all such interactions to the institution.

Other measures implemented include maintaining enhanced surveillance on "Tiananmen Mother", a group of Chinese pro-democracy activists and relatives of those killed during the massacre on June 4, 1989, which has been working to bring change in the Government's position over the Tiananmen massacre.

Meanwhile, authorities have also closed the Victoria Park of Hong Kong under the pretext of "maintenance work" till June 16. The step has been taken to prevent the organizing of the customary 'annual candlelight vigil' by pro-democracy groups.

Notably, the Tiananmen incident was precipitated by the peaceful gatherings of students, workers, and others in Beijing's Tiananmen Square and other Chinese cities in April 1989, calling for freedom of expression, accountability, and an end to corruption. The Chinese government responded to the intensifying protests in late May 1989 by declaring martial law.

On June 3 and 4, the military opened fire and killed untold numbers of peaceful protesters and bystanders. In Beijing, some citizens attacked army convoys and burned vehicles in response to the military's violence.

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), the Chinese government should acknowledge and take responsibility for the massacre of pro-democracy protesters in June 1989.

The authorities should immediately allow commemorations of the occasion in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau, and cease censoring discussions of the crackdown, according to the rights watchdog.


First published: 2 June 2022, 9:07 IST