United States critical, Hong Kong public protests, China defends on 28th Tiananmen Square massacre anniversary

Demonstrators attend a candlelight vigil at Victoria Park in Hong Kong, on June 4, 2017.  (Photo courtesy: Time Magazine)
Demonstrators attend a candlelight vigil at Victoria Park in Hong Kong, on June 4, 2017. (Photo courtesy: Time Magazine)

(TibetanReview.net, Jun06, 2017) – As China marked the 28th anniversary Jun 4 of its crackdown on pro-democracy protests in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square with a new round of repression, the United States called on it to make a full account of those killed or detained during the bloodbath while tens of thousands of people gathered in Hong Kong for a candlelight vigil to mark the occasion. US congress leaders have also added their voice to the clamour for China to come clean on that bloody incident in when government troops massacred peaceful protesters mainly of students asking for accountable governance and end to corruption.

“We call again on China to make a full account of those killed, detained, or missing due to the events of June 4, 1989,” US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement. He also urged China to cease “harassment” of family members seeking redress and to release from prison those who have been jailed for striving to keep the memory of Tiananmen Square alive.

“The US views the protection of human rights as a fundamental duty of all countries, and we urge the Chinese government to respect the universal rights and fundamental freedoms of all its citizens,” Tillerson said in his statement.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi also issued statement, saying, “Today, the Chinese government continues to deny the legacy of those courageous Chinese men and women. Children learn of their story only in whispers told by parents, not from the pages of history books, where they belong.”

She further said, “We must use this anniversary to remember what happened and what is still happening, each day. The Chinese government continues to jail journalists, human rights lawyers, those fighting to practice their own religion, booksellers and other human rights activists at a disturbing rate. It is unconscionable that the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo is still behind bars.”

Also a bipartisan group of lawmakers – the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) – issued a letter, urging Chinese President Xi Jinping to lift restrictions on public discussion of the Tiananmen protests and their violent suppression and to release individuals detained for commemorating the Jun 4 anniversary and human rights lawyers detained in the “709” crackdown.

The letter said, “The ongoing prohibition of public and online discussion of what transpired in the spring and summer of 1989 has done more to negatively shape global perceptions of the Chinese government than anything else in your country’s recent history.”

While Chinese authorities have banned any public commemoration of the event on the mainland, and have never released an official death toll, the even was marked every year in Hong Kong, a former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a ‘one country, two systems’ deal. Organizers of the vigil, held in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park, have said the event drew some 110,000 people, enough to fill more than six football pitches. However, Hong Kong police was reported to have estimated the crowd at 18,000.

In Taiwan, President Tsai Ing-wen marked the anniversary with an offer to help China to make the transition to democracy. China considers Taiwan a renegade province to be reunited with China, by force if necessary. It seeks to punish any country or entity seen as giving it diplomatic recognition. Tsai has said the biggest gap between Taiwan and China was democracy and freedom.

In China, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Jun 2 that her government had long ago reached a conclusion about Jun 4. The government maintains that the crackdown was a necessary and decisive move that paved the way for China’s economic boom. “I hope you can pay more attention to the positive changes happening in all levels of Chinese society,” Hua was quoted as saying.

However, Bao Tong, former political aide to the late ousted premier Zhao Ziyang and who served a seven-year jail term in the wake of the 1989 crackdown on the Tiananmen Square student movement, has told the Mandarin Service of Radio Free Asia (Washington) Jun 4: “The leaders won’t deal with this issue, but the Chinese people already have dealt with it. Most people know pretty much what really happened back then, so this has long since been resolved …though not on the surface.”


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