Tanks for the memory - join us today at the Chinese embassy on the Tiananmen Square anniversary

I found myself stood in front of a twelve-ton tank yesterday, with the barrel pointing squarely in my face. And yet my only fear was about the people shooting me from behind.

Worry not, the armed wing of Amnesty has not yet become operational. It was, of course, a media stunt, designed to get coverage of the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing, 19 years ago today. We were trying to recreate the famous ‘tank man’ picture of a lone man, still carrying his shopping, facing down Chinese tanks at Tiananmen Square.

Have a look here  to see how successful we were (compared to the original).

Sadly Barack Obama’s victory kept us out of most of the papers (save for the Metro, my favourite paper today). But we’re not giving up yet.

This evening at six pm you’ll find us outside the Chinese embassy, 45 Portland Place, London (map) – a short walk from Oxford Circus. There are other demos around the UK (details here) and indeed around the world. Please come!

We’ll be laying 10,000 red roses in solidarity with the Tiananmen Mothers who lost their children on this day 19 years ago – one for each of the signatures on Amnesty’s petition for justice for Tiananmen. There will be speeches from:

Shao Jiang – Tiananmen survivor and one of the organisers of the 1989 pro-democracy protests. He was imprisoned for 18 months after the crackdown and subjected to harassment and persecution thereafter. He fled to the UK in 1997.

Wei Jingsheng – prominent dissident imprisoned by the Chinese government for nearly 18 years for the peaceful expression of his political beliefs. Published pro-democracy essays and started an underground magazine. In prison he was subjected to brutal physical and psychological torture, including solitary confinement and physical attacks. He has been awarded the  Olof Palme Peace Prize in 1995, the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 1996, and is a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Xia Ze – UK representative of Friends of the Tiananmen Mothers; Xia Ze’s 19 year old cousin was shot dead in the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown. She has since been exiled from China.

Kate Allen – Amnesty International UK Director – my boss!

Hope to see you there.

 

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