Tiananmen Crackdown 29 Years On
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Tiananmen Crackdown 29 Years On

    June 4th marked the 29th anniversary of the Chinese government's deadly repression of protestors in Tiananmen Square. A Chinese mothers' group has posted a letter online calling for the country's president to re-investigate the crackdown.

    The document is not accessible from within China, and it is unclear who uploaded it. It says it is backed by nearly 130 relatives of Tiananmen victims. It criticizes China's leaders, saying the government has never apologized for the incident, and is trying to make it seem as though the massacre never happened. The letter demands the truth, compensation and accountability from the government.

    On June 4th, 1989, the Chinese military opened fire on students and other citizens who were protesting corruption and pushing for democratization in the country. The government says 319 people died, but the figure is believed to be much higher.

    On Monday, a number of police officers and vehicles could be seen in and around Tiananmen Square on the anniversary.

    Hua Chunying, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, said the government sees no need for a reassessment of the event. She said, "The government has already drawn a conclusion to the political troubles of the late 1980s."

    Memorial movements in Hong Kong and Taipei

    In Hong Kong, organizers say about 115,000 people gathered at an annual memorial service for victims. Demonstrators demanded that the Chinese government re-evaluate what happened nearly 30 years ago. They criticized what they see as an intensifying crackdown on pro-human rights lawyers in mainland China.

    Organizers also displayed a bust of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo at the rally. Liu, a symbol of the pro-democracy movement in China, died last year. Demonstrators spoke out against the Chinese authorities' continued surveillance of Liu's widow and called for her release from house arrest.

    One participant said, "In mainland China, the human rights and democracy situation will only get worse. People in Hong Kong should oppose it."


    In Taipei, Taiwan, about 100 people gathered on Monday night to remember the incident. They included Wu Renhua, who took part in the pro-democracy protest as a college lecturer. He now lives in exile in the United States.

    Wu said more than 200,000 troops were mobilized for the crackdown. He said they randomly fired at crowds and drove tanks into them, killing not only students and children but also medical workers who were providing first aid.

    He said China's government crackdown on those involved in the protest is continuing, and the incident is not history, but a reality that is still going on.

    A participant in his 20s said Taiwan could lose democracy just like Hong Kong if no action is taken.

    In an online message, Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen says that if Chinese authorities face the incident and admit to the use of violence, the unfortunate event will be the foundation of China's democratization. She says she hopes Taiwan and China will share the values of freedom and democracy one day.

    US urges China to respect human rights

    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has urged China to respect the basic human rights of its people. Pompeo issued a statement on Monday saying the United States remembers the tragic loss of innocent lives.

    He quoted words by the late Nobel Peace Prize winner and symbol of China's pro-democracy movement, Liu Xiaobo, saying "the ghosts of June 4th have not yet been laid to rest."

    Pompeo also urged China's government to end the harassment of demonstration participants and their families.

    The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua, told reporters that the US issues statements every year criticizing China and interfering in its internal affairs. She expressed China's strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition, and said the government had lodged a protest with Washington.