Worldwide vigils and protests mark 1989 Tiananmen massacre

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Originally published by The Tibet Post on June 6, 2016

Dharamshala — Worldwide vigils and protests marked the 27th anniversary of the “Tiananmen Square Massacre.” Tens of thousands of people gathered at candlelight vigil in Victoria Park in Hong Kong, on June 5th night to remember the deadly massacre that ended the 1989 pro-democracy protests in Beijing.

The anniversary was commemorated across the world, including Hong Kong, US, Taiwan and European countries with a call for Beijing to end human rights abuses. But in Beijing, the day passed as usual, without any public displays of commemoration at the weekend.

Reports say over 125,000 gathered at Victoria Park in Hong Kong, and they surrounded the “Goddess of Democracy” statue, which looked over Tiananmen Square during the gathering of reformers in 1989.

The suppression by the Chinese army of the democracy movement, in which thousands of people, mostly students died after the Communist leadership sent in tanks to break up the peaceful protests. However China claims a “counter-revolutionary rebellion” measure necessary to ensure “stability” in China.

On that day, the international community witnessed with a brutal military crackdown that led to a massacre of thousands of students protesting against by the Communist Party of China (CPC). The regime has never apologised or even allowed any kind of meaningful assessment of what happened in 1989. It remains a taboo in China and President Xi Jinping has overseen a long-running crackdown on lawyers, journalists, writers and activists.

Chinese police have detained several activists while others were placed under surveillance for the anniversary of the bloody 1989 crackdown in Tiananmen Square, which was heavily policed on Saturday.

To mark the anniversary, Students for a Free Tibet – India (SFT)organised an event in Dharamshala, India, on June 4, to show solidarity with the victims of the massacre and raise awareness about the ongoing crackdown on the democracy activist in China. “We are inspired by the courage of the people who took to the street to challenge CCP demanding for political reform,” the SFT India said.

Chinese, Tibetans and supporters gathered at the Time Square in New York City, on June 5, to mark the anniversary. The event organized by Chinese Democracy party and Goodness Democracy Fund and supported by Tibetan National Congress.

“On June 4, 1989, millions of peaceful demonstrators from the Chinese Democracy Movement gathered in Tiananmen Square, where thousands were brutally cracked down,” the organizers said.

“In every subsequent year, students, scholars, journalists, and politicians have joined with other human rights advocates to commemorate their sacrifice-except in China, where the official position of the Chinese Communist Party is that the events never happened,” the added.

Meanwhile, the US State Department urged China to allow peaceful commemorations of the incident. “The United States government continues to call for a full public accounting of those killed, detained or missing,” spokesman Mark Toner said, add: “Washington continues “to have serious concerns with ongoing violations of human rights in China.”

Toner cited the detention of human rights activists, lawyers, journalists and civil society leaders. The spokesman condemned “increased restrictions on media content, expression, association, and religious practice.” “We urge the Chinese government to respect the universal rights and freedoms of all its citizens,” he concluded.

The newly elected president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, has urged China not to fear democracy. At an event in the island’s legislature, Ms Tsai was joined by the democracy leader Wu’er Kaixi, who survived the Tiananmen crackdown and has not been allowed back into China since.

Ms Tsai said in a Facebook post that the lives of people in China have improved with economic growth, but that China would earn more respect if it granted its people more rights. “Only the ruling party has the capacity to resolve the past pain of the Chinese people,” she wrote. “Hopefully one day both sides will converge their views on democracy and human rights.”

In 2014, China detained at least 940 people working on human and civil rights—a 72% increase from the year before, according to the advocacy group  Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) . The figure demonstrates what critics say is a worsening government crackdown on the country’s civil society.

In addition, over 280 lawyers and human rights activists,in 2015, human rights lawyers were increasingly subject to physical assault, including by Chinese court officials. The massive square which became famous all over the world with an iconic picture of a young man standing before a row of battle tanks in 1989 was today filled with people. The government defended the action claiming that the “great achievements” made by China in the past three decades testify the righteousness of the path chosen by the CPC.

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