China: Amnesty appeals for justice for victims of Tiananmen Square as over 10,000 roses are laid at embassy demo on 4 June
Thousands of people are expected at an Amnesty International demonstration outside the Chinese embassy in London today to mark the anniversary of the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square.
Earlier this week Amnesty recreated the iconic ‘tank man’ image from Tiananmen Square, with Tiananmen survivor Shao Jiang standing in front of a real, full-size tank outside Amnesty’s UK headquarters.
Over 10,000 people across the UK have signed an Amnesty petition to the Chinese authorities on behalf of the ‘Tiananmen Mothers’, whose Children's rights were killed when Chinese troops opened fire on peaceful protesters in Beijing on 4 June 1989. Demonstrators will lay thousands of red roses outside the embassy – one for each person who signed the petition - in solidarity with the ‘Tiananmen Mothers’, who are not free to mourn their Children's rights publicly without fear of reprisals from the Chinese authorities. The Mothers have been denied an investigation into the events at Tiananmen Square.
There will also be a minute’s silence in which demonstrators will each hold aloft a red rose in solidarity with the Tiananmen Mothers, and a minute’s silence for those killed in the recent Sichuan earthquake.
Speeches will be heard from prominent dissident Wei Jingsheng; Tiananmen Square survivor Shao Jiang; UK Director of the Friends of the Tiananmen Mothers Xia Ze and Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen.
Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:
“Today we are appealing to the Chinese government to support the Tiananmen Mothers' simple demands - the freedom to publicly mourn the deaths of their Children's rights without harassment and an investigation into the events of June 1989.
“The Chinese authorities still deny their people the right to peacefully protest, 19 years on from the Tiananmen Square crackdown. It’s never been more important for people here in the UK to stand up for human rights in China.”
The Tiananmen crackdown in June 1989 killed hundreds of people. Dozens of protesters are still languishing in Chinese prisons after unfair trials and many more activists have since been arrested for questioning the government’s actions in 1989. Amnesty International is calling for the Chinese authorities to:
- Respect the right to peaceful protest – whether it is in Tibet or mainland China and whether it is ahead of, during or after the Olympic Games;
- Grant an amnesty to those imprisoned in connection with the 1989 protests, given the length of time they have spent in prison and the unfair nature of their trials;
- Allow the Tiananmen Mothers to mourn their Children's rights publicly without harassing them;
- Allow an independent investigation into what happened at Tiananmen Square on this day in 1989;
- Honour the promises made when bidding for the Olympic Games, to improve human rights.
Tiananmen Square survivor Shao Jiang said:
“Back in 1989 in Beijing I helped organise the pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square. I was arrested and held in prison for 18 months, followed by years of harassment and further detention.
“But I was still one of the lucky ones. Many of the participants were killed. I am here to commemorate the victims of the Tiananmen crackdown and to support the demands of the Tiananmen Mothers.”
The embassy demo will be addressed by prominent Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng, who was imprisoned by the Chinese government for nearly 18 years after he 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 nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Wei Jingsheng said:
“The Chinese government promised when it bid for the 2008 Olympics that hosting the Games would improve human rights. This simply hasn’t happened.
“At this time, we have to remind the Chinese authorities of their Olympic promises, push them, compel them, to care about human suffering for all people in China, and to reduce it. We have to make them care.”
Friends of the Tiananmen Mothers UK Director Xia Ze said:
“ In 1989 hundreds of people, including my cousin Wang Nan, were killed because they stood up for justice and equality. Every day since, their families have sought justice. We are still waiting.
“What we have lost can never be restored. But this gathering today shows that we are not alone.
“This is a huge opportunity for people all over the world to show just how much support the Tiananmen Mothers really have. They have waited 19 years for justice – we want that wait to end.”