Tiananmen survivors urge UN to investigate China’s 1989 crackdown

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Originally published by Nikkei Asian Review on June 17, 2019

TOKYO — Victims and survivors of the Tiananmen crackdown on June 4, 1989, have jointly submitted an official complaint to the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, and are demanding an investigation into events.

With the assistance of nongovernmental organization Chinese Human Rights Defenders , 22 activists including Wang Dan and Wuerkaixi — former student leaders and the top two names on China’s “most-wanted” Tiananmen fugitive list — on Monday demanded that China allows an independent team to look into what took place.

Should Beijing refuse to cooperate, the complainants say they will seek the use of Resolution 5/1 to appoint an independent expert to study the situation and report back to the council.

“The massacre 30 years ago has not ended yet,” said Wang, who now heads U.S.-based think tank Dialogue China. “The Chinese government even determined that the victims were criminals, and a large number of exiles are still deprived of their right to return to their own country.”

Wang is one of those being barred from going home. He added that the “families of those killed in the massacre have been unable to obtain state compensation.”

Tiananmen Mothers, a separate group of parents, friends and relatives of crackdown victims, has been peacefully lobbying Beijing to disclose the truth, take responsibility and pay compensation. But its efforts have been in vain so far.

Zhang Xianling, a member of the movement, spoke to the audience at a Hong Kong candlelight vigil to mark the Tienanmen anniversary on June 4. She said via video message that their repeated requests over the past three decades have been met with “authorities who continuously dare not to face us and dare not to answer us.”

The Chinese government says it has “already reached a final verdict” on what it calls the “political wind wave and a related problem at the end of the 1980s.” It does not mention the date and the year, as the numbers “89” and “64” — or a combination of them — are deemed to be sensitive and banned from the public domain in China.

Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe, replying to a question from the floor at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on June 2, said: “Are you saying that the way we handled June 4 was wrong?”

Frances Eve, deputy director of research at Chinese Human Rights Defenders said: “It’s long overdue for the U.N.’s highest human rights body to take on the Tiananmen issue, which has been at the heart of the Chinese government’s ongoing gross human rights violations for the past 30 years.”

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