New York [US]: Chinese authorities, over the last one year, have increased the harassment and persecution of activists for commemorating the June 04, 1989 Tiananmen Massacre, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Thursday.
The Chinese government should acknowledge and take responsibility for the mass killing of pro-democracy demonstrators.
A few months ago, Hong Kong’s universities removed the Tiananmen memorials. In December 2021, the University of Hong Kong removed “Pillar of Shame,” a large sculpture commemorating the massacre victims, from the university premises.
The Danish sculptor Jens Galschiot tried to reclaim the artwork but no shipping companies wanted to be involved, citing fear of retaliation by the authorities. University students protested the removal by holding an “invisible” flash mob at the sculpture’s original site.
The Chinese University of Hong Kong and City University of Hong Kong removed “Goddess of Democracy” statues, which were modeled after the original statue erected by students at Tiananmen Square in 1989. Lingnan University also removed a Tiananmen wall relief.
In the mainland, as in previous years, the authorities in the weeks before the anniversary have preempted commemorations of the massacre.
According to HRW, They have restricted the movement and communication of members of Tiananmen Mothers, a group of relatives of Tiananmen Massacre victims, and many activists, such as Hu Jia, Gao Yu, and Zhang Lifan. You Weijie and Zhang Xianling, whose husband and son were killed in the crackdown respectively, said authorities blocked overseas calls to their cellphones.
The Chinese government has long ignored domestic and international calls for justice for the Tiananmen Massacre, and some of the sanctions that the European Union and US imposed in response have over the years been weakened or evaded.
The lack of a sustained, coordinated, international response to the massacre and ensuing crackdown is one factor in Beijing’s increasingly brazen human rights violations, including the mass detention of an estimated one million Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang and the direct imposition of national security legislation in Hong Kong that suppresses fundamental freedoms.
The Tiananmen Massacre 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 government responded to the intensifying protests in late May 1989 by declaring martial law.
On June 3 and 4, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers fired upon 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.
Following the killings, the government carried out a nationwide crackdown and arrested thousands of people on “counter-revolution” and other criminal charges, including arson and disrupting social order.
The government has never accepted responsibility for the massacre or held any officials legally accountable for the killings. (ANI)