Twenty-three years ago, on 4 June 1989 at about 5 am, Chinese army tanks rolled into Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Hundreds of demonstrators, possibly more than a thousand, were killed and thousands were shot and wounded.
Economic liberalisation instigated by Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s did not produce lasting political liberalisation or lead to any relaxation of the Communist Party’s monopoly of power. Many brave citizens who tried to expose what took place during the massacre and demanded justice for the victims or called for convictions to be reconsidered, lost their jobs or remain in prison today.
The father of one demonstrator, reduced to desperation after the victim’s families received no response to their repeated appeals to the authorities, hanged himself on 26 May.
The Chinese state tolerates no criticism and has banned Chinese civil society from expressing itself freely. Human rights abuses occur daily, such as re-education through labour, arbitrary detention and torture of dissidents, psychiatric internment, crackdowns on dissidents from ethnic or religious minorities through imprisonment or execution, control of the Internet, harassment of lawyers who campaign for civil rights, house arrest with no legal basis. It should be noted that the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Liu Xiaobo, was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment.
On 4 June in Paris, Hong Kong, London, New York, Frankfurt and major cities throughout the world, thousands of demonstrators will gather to express their anger and to ensure the date is not forgotten.
They will be supporting demands for an end to the persecution of the most courageous figures in Chinese civil society, and of their families. These include Liu Xiaobo, Hu Jia, Gao Zhisheng as well as many others who are often overlooked. The demonstrators will also be demanding that protesters who went into exile more than 20 years ago be allowed to return, and will be calling for political reform and the establishment of a democratic constitution for China.
A demonstration honouring the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre will take place on 3 June between 6 pm and 8 pm at the Trocadéro Human Rights Plaza in Paris, organized by the Chinese pro-democracy movement and supported by Reporters Without Borders, the Human Rights League, China Solidarity, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Together Against the Death Penalty (ECPM), Act for Human Rights (ADH), Christian Action for the Abolition of Torture, Amnesty International, France-Tibet and the Tibetan People’s Support Committee.
A press conference organized by the Liu Xiaobo Support Committee will be held on Monday 4 June at 10:30 am in the offices of Reporters Without Borders, 47 rue Vivienne, 75002 Paris. It will be opened by the dissident Zhang Jian, who was wounded by three bullets fired by troops during the massacre, and will be followed by a statement by members of the Liu Xiaobo Support Committee.