25 Years Tiananmen ‘celebrated’ with over 100 detentions

June 13, 2014

(A map of all individuals detained in the wake of the Tiananmen anniversary. Some of these persons have already been released. Photo: CHRD)

Yesterday China Human Rights Defenders has released a list of over 100 activists, journalists, lawyers, dissidents and other assorted individuals who are thought to have been detained by the government in the wake of the 25th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. As of June 11, 116 individuals from various parts of China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Sichuan, Xinjiang and Guangdong are all listed, with an estimated 49 criminal detentions and two confirmed arrests. Many who were not detained were invited by local authorities to “drink tea” – a veiled phrase for questioning – and were warned to avoid participating in any anniversary activities. Chief among the detainees is veteran human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, who was placed in criminal detention on May 6 under charges of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” after he attended a May 3 Tiananmen commemoration.

(Pu Zhiqiang. Photo: Reuters)

Pu was … a student lawyer in the 1989 protests, [and he] became a prominent human rights lawyer and advocate, taking up some of the most politically sensitive rights-defending cases,” said David Zhao, researcher and representative for CHRD. “He [has made] earlier remarks that he is still ‘deeply emotionally tied to [Tiananmen]’ and has ‘no regrets over his involvements’.”

 

(Yu Shiwen (left) and Chen Wei (right). Photo: Screenshot via RFA)

Other persons on CHRD’s list include Wang Xiuying, an 83-year-old activist who had her home searched by Beijing police after signing a Tiananmen commemoration petition, Chen Wei and Yu Shiwen, an activist couple who organised Tiananmen memorial services, and Wu Wei, a former South China Morning Post journalist in Beijing who interviewed Pu Zhiqiang in the past. “The clampdown on commemorative events this year is the most severe of all years and this reflects the [government’s] determination to wipe out the memory of Tiananmen,” Zhao said.

View CHRD’s list in full here.

via http://www.scmp.com/news/china-insider/article/1530899/human-rights-group-releases-list-over-100-people-detained-during

A few days earlier, 6 June, Mary Lawlor of Front Line wrote a thoughtful piece on the same issue stating that it “would be fitting that the 25th anniversary of the  Square massacre be marked by a renewed international effort to provide greater support to Chinese human rights defenders.

China-Tiananmen-Square

Human rights defenders (HRDs) currently working in China are frequently seen as challenging the Party and as such must be prepared to risk everything, including death, to continue their work. Although the Party’s methods may have changed in the past quarter of a century, its intention to crush dissent at any cost has not. On 3/4 June 1989 hundreds of peaceful demonstrators were killed in the approach roads to Tiananmen Square in Beijing, bringing an end to seven weeks of protests which had drawn up to a million people onto the streets. What started off as a student protest in the capital calling for political reform quickly morphed into a mass movement supported by broad cross-sections of society which spread to dozens of other cities throughout the country.

The legacy of these protests and the massacre that followed is still keenly felt by HRDs in today’s China. The events of 1989 remain a key touchstone to many Chinese HRDs and as the CCP works to erase the memory of what happened that June, HRDs are equally determined to keep that memory alive, and honor those who died. They do this not only through yearly commemorations of the dead, but also through their day-to-day work defending the rights for which the 1989 protesters struggled. These HRDs highlight injustice, campaign against discrimination, defend in court those who have been arrested for expressing themselves freely and shine a spotlight on the myriad of abuses, including corruption, carried out by the CCP.

So threatened does the Party feel by the memory of its actions 25 years ago that it criminalizes the very act of remembering. In early May, five HRDs were arrested following a low-key memorial at a private residence in Beijing. They are being held on charges of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” The only “quarrel” these HRDs “picked” was with the CCP’s whitewashed version of history, and the Party’s hysterical overreaction to such a commemoration is as clear an admission of guilt as any signed confession. The author then refers to groups such as the  The Tiananmen Mothers and the New Citizens Movement…

On the surface, the China of today is a much changed place to the China of 1989… Yet beneath the confident exterior lies the reality that the CCP remains a fragile entity, haunted by the possibility that the values of equality, justice and dignity espoused by HRDs in China might threaten its legitimacy, which is based almost solely on an economic growth model…..While various countries trip over each other in a race to secure lucrative trade deals with China, emphasis on human rights gets pushed further and further down the agenda. The CCP knows that no matter how egregious its abuse of rights – as in the recent death of human rights defender Cao Shunli in custody – international reaction will be muted at best. These are the same rights which workers and students died for twenty five years ago and whose deaths were met at the time with a robust international response.

The weakening of such international support for HRDs working today can only be seen as a betrayal of the values espoused in 1989. It would be fitting that the 25th anniversary of the massacre be marked by a renewed international effort to provide greater support to Chinese HRDs as they bravely continue their work in advancing and protecting internationally recognized rights, despite knowing with full certainty that they will be targeted as a result of this work.

Tiananmen 25: More than a Symbolic Legacy | Sharnoffs Global Views.

One Response to “25 Years Tiananmen ‘celebrated’ with over 100 detentions”


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