2 June 2009
China: Hold independent inquiry into 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown
Chinese authorities should hold an open and independent inquiry into the 1989 violent military crackdown on peaceful demonstrators in and around Tiananmen Square, Amnesty International said today.
The Chinese government has thwarted any attempts to shed light on the military crackdown that resulted in hundreds of deaths and injuries in June 1989. In the lead up to the twentieth anniversary of the protests, the authorities have even intensified a current crackdown on activists and lawyers.
The Chinese government has not made official figures public, but several non-governmental organizations estimate that at least 20 and maybe as many as 200 individuals remain in detention for their involvement in the 1989 pro-democracy protests.
“The National People’s Congress has within its powers the ability to lead the way in calling for an account of all those who died, those who were imprisoned and those who remain in prison still as a result of the crackdown,” said Amnesty International in an open letter sent to Wu Bangguo, the Chairman of the National People’s Congress of China, on 13 May 2009.
In the spring of 1989, pro-democracy demonstrations that were started by students in Tiananmen Square spread across China and ended by a military crackdown. Twenty years have passed. Attempts to mark the anniversary of the crackdown have been suppressed. Public debate or discussion about what happened in 1989 is banned. There are still individuals in prison because of their involvement in the demonstrations.
Meanwhile, China put forth an economic reform that brought wealth to the urban areas while rural residents struggle to hold on to their land, family and humanity. The crackdown on freedom of expression spread from printed media to the Internet. Today, students in China have little idea about what happened to the previous generation of students twenty years ago. Human rights defenders are constantly harassed and intimated physically and emotionally with some of them sent to prison or put under house arrest.
The local Portland Amnesty International Group 48 will mark the 20th anniversary of Tiananmen with a film presentation of the PBS Frontline documentary, “The Tank Man”. Before and after the film, Portland State University Political Science Professor, Bruce Gilley will provide his expert analysis on the Tiananmen crackdown and the ensuing struggle for freedom of expression and human rights. This event is cosponsored by the World Affairs Council of Oregon. It is free and open to the public.
When: Saturday, June 6, 2009 at 2pm
Where: US Bank Room, Central Library (801 SW 10th Avenue, Portland)