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Twenty-Two Years After Tiananmen Massacre, Worst Repression in a Generation

NoJustice for Past Atrocities, No Guarantee of HumanRights(Chinese Human RightsDefenders, June 2, 2011) – As the world watches andreacts to the events of the Arab Spring unfoldingacross the Middle East and North Africa, commentatorsare drawing parallels to the Chinese pro-democracymovement of 1989, both in recognition of the symbolicsimilarities of the demonstrations and in fear of howrepressive regimes in the region might respond. At thesame time, in China, the current leaders of theChinese Communist Party have instituted the mostsevere repression of dissent and activism since thepost-Tiananmen crackdown.  Twenty-two yearslater, the legacy of the 1989 pro-democracy movementremains as relevant as ever for both China and theinternational community, as the Chinese governmentstill has not addressed the human rights atrocitiescommitted during the violent crackdown on peacefulprotestors in Beijing between June 3 and 4, 1989. Infact, the government is farther than it has been inyears from guaranteeing Chinese citizens their basicrights and freedoms, the very cause which brought themto Tiananmen Square in Beijing and the streets of manycities in the spring of 1989. The Chinesegovernment has long defied international calls forjustice for the victims of the Tiananmen Massacre.For example, in 2008, the UN Committee againstTorture requested that Chinese officials“conduct a full andimpartial investigation into the suppression of theDemocracy movement in Beijing in June 1989, provideinformation on the persons who are still detainedfrom that period, inform the family members of theirfindings, offer apologies and reparation asappropriate and prosecute those found responsiblefor excessive use of force, torture and otherill-treatment.”[1]To date, the Chinesegovernment has launched no such investigation, muchless has it apologized, offered compensation, or heldindividuals accountable for killing, injuring,imprisoning, persecuting and torturing individuals forparticipating in peaceful protests. Families continueto be barred from publicly commemorating the deaths oftheir loved ones and from seeking accountability.Activists have been persecuted and harassed forindependently investigating the crackdown or forcalling for a rectification of the government’s“verdict” that the pro-democracy movement was a“counter-revolutionary riot.”While the time around June 4th is alwaysamong the most “sensitive” on the government’scalendar of political repression, the policeharassment, restrictions on movement, and other formsof intimidation that have become an annual occurrenceare taking place this year in a more tenseenvironment. The steady backsliding on human rightsand the rule of law in China, which began in earnestduring the run-up to the 2008 Olympic Games, hasreached a peak in recent months as the government hasmobilized police across the country to detain,disappear, and intimidate hundreds of individuals. Atleast 48 individuals have been subjected to criminaldetention since mid-February, and so far seven ofthose have been formally arrested and one alreadyconvicted. Sixteen remain in some form of detention asof the time of writing. At least 22 individuals,including a number of prominent human rights lawyers,have been subjected to enforced disappearances, somefor as long as 70 days. At least 12 individuals arestill missing. Reports from individuals who have beendetained or disappeared in recent months indicate thattorture and mistreatment have been routine, as policeseek to pressure these individuals to abandon theirhuman rights activism or keep silent about theirtreatment during detention. The support of the international community is now morecritical than ever, as Chinese activists faceever-greater risks for speaking out against abuses orexpressing their aspirations.  This June 4th, the U.S., the E.U., andother democratic governments should once again condemnthe 1989 Tiananmen Massacre—an important reminder tothe Chinese government and citizenry that theinternational community has not forgotten. They shouldcontinue to call for an investigation and demand thatthose responsible for the 1989 atrocities be heldaccountable. The Human RightsCouncil (HRC) should convene a special session onChina to discuss the appropriateness of its membershipon the Council. The current crackdown on activism anddissent in China is the worst in over 20 years. Chinahas served on the HRC since 2006; however, during thetwo terms of its membership, the Chinese governmenthas continued its pattern of gross and systematicviolations of Chinese citizens’ rights. The Chinesegovernment has repeatedly and directly contravenedthose international human rights treaties which itsigned and/or ratified, including, among others, theConvention against Torture and Cruel, Degrading, orInhuman Treatment or Punishment, which China signedand ratified in 1988.  In light of therecent actions the HRC and the UN General Assembly hastaken with respect to human rights abuses in theMiddle East and North Africa, including the suspensionof Libya’s membership on the HRC, and the Commissionsof Inquiry and fact finding missions to Libya andother countries, we urge the HRC to authorize theOffice of the High Commissioner on Human Rights tolaunch an inquiry into the current crackdown on humanrights and pro-democracy activists in China and demandthat the Chinese government take concrete measures toaddress past and ongoing human rights abuses. Media Contacts:Renee Xia,International Director (English and Mandarin), +8528191 6937 or +1 240 374 8937, reneexia@chrdnet.orgWang Songlian, ResearchCoordinator (English and Mandarin), +852 8191 1660, songlianwang@chrdnet.orgDavid Smalls,Researcher (English) +1 347 448 5285,    For moreinformation, please see:CHRD, TheLegacy of Tiananmen: 20 Years of Oppression,Activism and Hope, June 1, 2009,

CHRD,“Individuals Affected by the Crackdown FollowingCall for ‘Jasmine Revolution,’” updated May 30,2011,

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