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Tiananmen Square anniversary shrouded in silence in China

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China imposed an information blackout on the 30th anniversary of its bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters at Tiananmen Square.

Extra checkpoints and street closures greeted who showed up at the square in the centre of Beijing.

Any commemoration of the event is not allowed in mainland China, though tens of thousands turned out for an annual candlelight vigil in Hong Kong. The Chinese territory has relatively greater freedoms than the mainland, though even there, activists are concerned about the erosion of those liberties in recent years.

People overseas found themselves blocked from posting anything to a popular Chinese social media site.

Tens of thousands of people have gathered in Hong Kong to mark the 30th anniversary of the crackdown on protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

Hong Kong and Macau are the only places in Chinese territory where people can commemorate the activists killed in 1989.

Annual vigil commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre 30th anniversary.
Participants attend the annual candlelit vigil commemorating the 30th anniversary of the 1989 Beijing Tiananmen Square massacre at Victoria Park in Hong Kong, China, 04 June 2019. Photo: EPA-EFE/JEROME FAVRE

China has never given an official figure for how many people died, but estimates begin in the hundreds.

Organisers say 180,000 people joined a vigil in the city’s Victoria Park.

China has largely succeeded in wiping the events of June 3-4 1989 from the public consciousness at home, where the anniversary of the crackdown passed like any other weekday.

The seven-week-long Tiananmen Square protests and their bloody end, in which hundreds if not thousands of people are believed to have died, snuffed out a tentative shift in China toward political liberalisation.

Hong Kong Tiananmen Vigil
A woman wears a T-shirt commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown near Victoria Park a few hours before the annual vigil in Hong Kong, China. Photo: EPA/JEROME FAVRE

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo issued a statement saluting what he called the “heroes of the Chinese people who bravely stood up 30 years ago … to demand their rights”. He said that US hopes that China would become a more open and tolerant society have been dashed.

He and his European Union counterpart Federica Mogherini urged China to come clean about what happened and how many died.

In a statement also released on Tuesday, the EU’s top diplomat Federica Mogherini said it was important to acknowledge the events of 1989, expected due process for those detained then and called for the immediate release of human rights defenders and lawyers connected with Tiananmen.

“The European Union continues to mourn the victims and offers its condolences to their families,” a European Commission spokeswoman said.

The Tiananmen Square protests, commonly known in mainland China as the June Fourth Incident or Six four, were student-led demonstrations in Beijing in mid-1989 and was the popular national movement inspired by the Beijing protests during that period, sometimes called the ’89 Democracy Movement .

The protests were forcibly suppressed after the government declared martial law and sent in the military to occupy central parts of Beijing. In what became known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre, troops with assault rifles and tanks fired at the demonstrators trying to block the military’s advance towards Tiananmen Square. Estimates of the death toll vary from several hundreds to up to 2,600, with additional thousands of wounded.

 

Via Reuters/BBC/ NYT

 

 

 

 

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