Beijing / Hong Kong (dpa) – On the anniversary of the bloody suppression of the democracy movement on June 4, 1989 in Beijing, families of the victims have demanded a fair reappraisal of this dark chapter in Chinese history.
The relatives of the “Mothers of Tian’anmen” network demanded disclosure of the truth about the massacre and compensation in an open letter. Those responsible must be held accountable, says the letter that the human rights organization Human Rights in China (HRiC) published on Friday for the anniversary.
In Hong Kong, an organizer of the former annual commemoration in the Chinese Special Administrative Region was arrested. The vice-chairman of the Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, Chow Hang-Tung, is suspected of promoting the banned anniversary candle worship in Victoria Park, the South China Morning Post quoted a prosecutor as saying. The activist had announced that, despite the ban on demonstrations, she wanted to go to the park privately to mourn.
For the second year in a row, the Hong Kong authorities banned the memorial, which once gathered tens of thousands. As a justification, reference was made to the corona pandemic. Critics, on the other hand, suspect political motives behind the decision, as the infection situation in Hong Kong has eased and the organizers wanted to adhere to distance rules. As in the previous year, some Hong Kong residents did not want to be deterred, although they face jail sentences.
Hong Kong has seen large demonstrations for more democracy repeatedly since 2014. To crush the movement, Beijing passed a “security law” last summer. It is vaguely directed against activities that Beijing considers subversive, separatist, terrorist or conspiratorial. The authorities are taking massive action against the democracy movement. Hundreds of activists were arrested and sentenced to long prison terms. Numerous members of the opposition have left Hong Kong.
As every year in China on Friday – apart from strict security precautions around Tian’anmen Square – nothing reminded of the military operation with which the peaceful protests had been put down 32 years ago. Hundreds of thousands demonstrated for weeks for democracy, freedom and against corruption. In Tian’anmen Square, students went on hunger strike while a power struggle crippled the leadership.
The reformist party leader Zhao Ziyang had sympathy for the students, but in the end the hardliners and the “strong man” Deng Xiaoping, who called the troops, prevailed. Several hundred people were killed in the military operation. The exact number is not known to this day. Thousands were injured and imprisoned.
“Without hesitation or scruples, they shot and crushed unarmed students and citizens – and even destroyed their corpses to cover up their crimes,” complain the families in their open letter. “32 years later, we still see no official attempt to unseal and reveal the information about the bloodbath.” The massacre remains “a taboo for the government.”
The families sought a dialogue with the government. As a first step, they wanted to have the names of the dead published. “We are waiting for the Communist Party and the Chinese government to bow and apologize to the entire nation for this atrocity.” However, the Chinese leadership has never responded to appeals from families in recent decades. Public commemoration was also always forbidden.
“The entire Chinese people have been deprived of the right to find out about this tragedy and even forbidden to openly commemorate the dead or to blame the Communist Party or the government for the bloodbath,” the relatives said . Young people in China do not know or believe what happened in the capital in 1989.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 210604-99-856025 / 3