Tiananmen Anniversary Marked by Harassment, Detentions, and Official Silence

Comments Off on Tiananmen Anniversary Marked by Harassment, Detentions, and Official Silence

Tiananmen Anniversary Marked by Harassment, Detentions, and Official Silence

(Chinese Human Rights Defenders, June 3, 2010) On the eve of the 21st anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre, the Chinese government continues to refuse to openly and truthfully address the events of June 4, 1989, and persists in its efforts to silence Chinese citizens who seek to commemorate the Massacre. While police across China are harassing and intimidating activists against speaking out as June 4 approaches, at least four Beijing-based individuals remain in prison for their participation in the 1989 protests. In addition, at least three activists sent to Re-education through Labor camps last year for their efforts to mark the 20th anniversary of the Massacre remain in detention. Last week, the Hong Kong government briefly seized two “Goddess of Democracy” statues from an activist organization, an unprecedented act of interference with the territory’s commemorative activities. Hong Kong is the only place in China where the killings have been publicly marked in the past 21 years.

“The government’s suppression around this time each year serves as an annual reminder to the world of the atrocities it committed 21 years ago, and testifies to the government’s fear of the truth being told. But nothing can suppress our memories or stop us from seeking justice,” said one Chinese activist who participated in the 1989 pro-democracy movement, speaking from his home where he is under residential surveillance.

Police Harassment of Chinese Activists

For several days now, police around the country have warned activists not to organize events or otherwise commemorate the anniversary. Surveillance and monitoring of activists has also intensified as June 4 approaches. For example:

l Since the morning of June 3, Teng Biao (滕彪), a human rights lawyer in Beijing, has been guarded at home by policemen from the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau (PSB).

l On the morning of June 3, three policemen from the Beijing PSB visited the home of Wang Debang (王德邦), a freelance writer and human rights activist in Beijing, and warned him against organizing activities to commemorate the occasion.

l On the morning of June 3, Yang Hai (杨海), a human rights defender from Xi’an City, Shaanxi Province, told fellow activists that the police were on their way to his home to take him away for “a trip.” Yang has not been able to be contacted since.

l Also in Xi’an City, Shaanxi Province, human rights defender Zhang Jiankang (张鉴康) has not been able to be contacted since the morning of June 3. Zhang was called in for “tea” with National Security officers on May 28 and told that he would be forced to leave Xi’an during the period surrounding June 4.[1]

l Since June 2, Liu Xianbin (刘贤斌), a dissident based in Suining City, Sichuan Province, has been guarded by three policemen stationed outside of his home. Suining National Security officers previously summoned Liu on the morning of May 28 to question him about June 4 and warn him not to travel.[2]

l Since June 1, Mu Jiayu (穆嘉峪), a Chongqing activist, has been followed by four police vehicles.[3]

l In Guiyang City, Guizhou Province, a May 28 gathering to discuss commemorating the upcoming anniversary was disrupted by officers from the Guiyang PSB. At least 12 participants were either forced into police vehicles or forbidden from entering a public park where the meeting was to be held. Other activists were prevented from traveling to the meeting at all, having been threatened or placed under surveillance at their homes.[4]

Continued Imprisonment of 1989 Protestors

According to data compiled by CHRD, at least 906 individuals across the country were imprisoned during the crackdown after the Massacre.[5] In Beijing, twenty-one years on, at least four individuals – Zhu Gengsheng (朱更生), Li Yujun (李玉君), Yang Pu (杨朴), and Miao Deshun (苗德顺) – remain incarcerated. Zhu and Li are being held in Beijing’s Number Two Prison, while Yang and Miao are being held in Beijing’s Yanqing Prison. All four are serving suspended death sentences on arson convictions. Three others – Song Kai (宋凯), Chang Jingqiang (常景强), and Shi Xuezhi (石学之) – have reportedly been released in the past year, but CHRD has been unable to contact them.

Continued Detention of Activists for Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the Massacre

Three activists sent to Re-education through Labor (RTL) in 2009 for activities related to last year’s anniversary remain in detention:

  • Sun Fuquan (孙福全), a journalist and activist from Shenyang City, Liaoning Province, was sent to 21 months of RTL for “inciting subversion of state power” and “splitting the country” for posting information online about the Massacre;
  • Zhang Huaiyang (张怀阳), a digital activist also from Shenyang, was sent to 18 months of RTL for inquiring online if others were planning to gather on Tiananmen Square to mark the anniversary. The RTL Committee in Shenyang ruled that these inquiries “incited the creation of troubles and endangered national security.”
  • Huang Wei (黄伟), a Zhejiang Province folk singer who has traveled around the country in recent years singing about human rights as well as the Massacre, was sent to 18 months of RTL for planning a commemorative performance on Tiananmen Square.

Two other activists, Ning Wenzhong (宁文忠) and Chen Yang (陈杨), were released in the past month after being sent to one year of RTL for similar activities in June 2009.

Suppression of Free Expression and Commemorative Activities in Hong Kong

On May 29 and 30, Hong Kong police and government workers seized two Goddess of Democracy statues erected in a busy plaza by the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China (香港市民支援爱国民主运动联合会), which has organized activities to commemorate the Tiananmen Massacre every year since 1990. The Hong Kong government claimed that the organization had not applied for an entertainment license as required under Hong Kong law. However, the Hong Kong Alliance contended that it had displayed the statue in the same location without a permit in past years. Following strong public criticism, the Hong Kong government returned the two statues several days later. CHRD is concerned that this unprecedented act may herald increased harassment of the territory’s activists and citizens as they exercise their freedom of expression and assembly to mark the Massacre.


CHRD reiterates its demands, put forward in previous reports and statements regarding the Tiananmen Massacre, that:

l The authorities immediately cease the persecution and harassment of individuals for commemorating, investigating and speaking out about the Tiananmen Massacre;

l The Chinese government allow a full, transparent and impartial investigation of the Tiananmen Massacre and of allegations of torture, including the use of the death penalty, and wrongful imprisonment, and publish a comprehensive list of individuals who were killed, injured, disappeared, imprisoned, detained, or otherwise punished for participating in the protests;

l Any officials responsible for ordering the execution, torture, or wrongful conviction of protestors or for ordering troops to open fire on unarmed civilians be held accountable for their crimes;

l The Chinese government apologizes to and compensates those whose family members were killed and those who were injured, imprisoned, detained, or otherwise punished for participating in the protests.

Press Contacts

Renee Xia, International Director (English and Mandarin), +852 8191 6937 or +1 301 547 9286

Wang Songlian, Research Coordinator (English and Mandarin), +852 8170 0237

David Smalls, Researcher (English and Mandarin), +1 347 448 5285


[1] “On Eve of June 4, Group of Xi’an Dissidents and Activists Called in for ‘Tea'” (“六四”前夕西安一批异议、维权人 士遭“喝茶”), May 28, 2010, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/201005/20100528154902_21437.html.

[2] “Liu Xianbin Guarded as June Fourth Nears” (“六四”临近 刘贤斌被“上岗”), June 2, 2010, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/201006/20100602093816_21518.html; “Sichuan Dissident Liu Xianbin Summoned Again” (四川异议人士刘贤斌被传唤经过), May 28, 2010, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class18/Class35/201005/20100528124437_21429.html; “Liu Xianbin Twitter Serial: A Record of My Summons” (刘贤斌推特连载:再次被传唤经历), May 28, 2010, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class18/Class35/201005/20100528142853_21435.html.

[3] “Many Chongqing Dissidents Monitored as June Fourth Nears (临近“六四”,重庆多名异议人士被监控),” June 2, 2010, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/201006/20100602125649_21526.html.

[4] “Guiyang PSB Escalates Pressure, Targets June 4 Commemorative Activities” (破坏纪念“6.4”活动,贵阳公安打压升级), May 29, 2010, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/liusi/201005/20100529090221_21448.html.

[5] CHRD, The Legacy of Tiananmen: 20 Years of Oppression, Activism and Hope, June 1, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/2009/06/01/research-reports-article-3/.

  • Back to Top