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Authorities Block Internet Searches and Prevent Memorial Activities in Lead-Up to 24th Anniversary of Suppression of 1989 Protests

June 4, 2013

In the lead-up to the 24th anniversary to the violent suppression of the spring 1989 citizen protests in Beijing and many other cities, this year, authorities prevented activities memorializing those who died during the protests. Authorities also harassed, kept under soft detention, restricted the movement of, or detained select rights defenders and democracy advocates, some of whom had applied to authorities to hold memorial demonstrations. This year, as in previous years, authorities censored online references to the 1989 protests.

This year marks the 24th anniversary of the violent suppression of the June 4, 1989, Tiananmen citizen protests in China, during which students, workers, and others demonstrated against corruption and social and economic problems, as well as advocated for more freedoms. In the lead-up to the anniversary, authorities stepped up surveillance and harassment of rights defenders and democracy advocates. Authorities also placed people under soft detention at home, restricted their freedom of movement, detained them, or took them on a "trip" to undisclosed locations (BBC, 29 May 13; Radio Free Asia (RFA), 28 May 13; Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), 30 May 13; and Dui Hua Foundation, 30 May 13).

Chinese citizens in several locations, including Guangzhou and Tianjin municipalities and Hunan province, reportedly applied to authorities for permission to hold demonstrations to memorialize those who died during the 1989 protests. Authorities reportedly denied those requests and in Guangzhou, officials questioned the applicants and administratively detained two of them (RFA, May 28; RFA 27 May 13; CHRD, May 30; Human Rights Watch, 31 May 13).

In addition, citizens and groups from inside and outside China called upon Chinese authorities to reappraise the "verdict" of the 1989 protests as a "counterrevolutionary riot" or to provide an official accounting of and compensation for those killed (Tiananmen Mothers open letter, via and translated by Human Rights in China, 31 May 13; U.S. Department of State, 31 May 13; RFA, May 27; and CHRD, 1 June 12).

This year, as in previous years, in the lead-up to the anniversary, Chinese authorities blocked online searches for references to the 1989 protests. In addition to warning people not to post references to the protests and blocking searches for "24th anniversary" and "demonstration," authorities also blocked searches for the names of the three activists questioned in Guangzhou after they applied for permission to hold a demonstration (RFA, May 28). [For information on censorship in the lead-up to the anniversary in 2012, see this CECC roundup.]

In late 2012, Chinese authorities reportedly released Jiang Yaqun, the last person charged with a "counterrevolutionary" crime stemming from the June 4 Tiananmen protests, who reportedly now is elderly, weak, and may be suffering from Alzheimer's (Dui Hua, May 30).

In the years following the violent suppression of the 1989 citizen protests, Chinese authorities reportedly sentenced 1,602 people for their activities during the period of the "two disturbances," i.e., the protests in Beijing and the protests outside of Beijing that took place in numerous cities in the spring of 1989 (Dui Hua, May 30).

In recent years, Chinese officials have continued to impose harsh sentences on citizens who have peacefully advocated for democracy, including Liu Xiaobo (11 years), Chen Xi (10 years), Zhu Yufu (7 years), Li Tie (10 years), Liu Xianbin (10 years), Chen Wei (9 years), Guo Quan (10 years), and Xie Changfa (13 years).

For more information on official actions against democracy advocates see the CECC 2012 Annual Report (pp. 126-127) and the CECC 2011 Annual Report (pp. 160-161).

Source: -See Summary (2013-06-03 ) | Posted on: 2013-06-04  
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