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Particular duty for people in UK to remember 'spirit of Tankman' on 35th anniversary

Marking the 35th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown in the Chinese capital on 4 June 1989, Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s Chief Executive, said: 

“On the 35th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, we should remember the bloodbath of peaceful protesters precisely because the Chinese authorities are so intent on it being forgotten.

“Hong Kong has been the only part of China where the Tiananmen anniversary was openly marked, and now it too has been silenced.

“The arrest of people attempting to commemorate Tiananmen in Hong Kong last week, shows that, 35 years on, the spirit of Tank Man has still got the Chinese authorities running scared. We should stand with him today, and all the brave activists who have come after him.

“As the host country to the single biggest population of Hong Kongers in exile, the UK has a particular duty to remember Tiananmen Square and the brave protesters who lost their lives.

“We must make sure that China is not allowed to export its ruthless brand of suppression over here.”

Hong Kong arrests of people trying to mark Tiananmen

Last week, six women and two men in Hong Kong were arrested for allegedly committing offences in connection with seditious intention under section 24 of the Safeguarding National Security Ordinance - part of the territory’s notorious Article 23 legislation. A government press release said the arrests were related to social media posts commemorating “a sensitive day” (referring to 4 June, the anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown).


Hundreds - possibly thousands - of people were killed in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on 4 June 1989 when Chinese troops opened fire on students and workers who had been peacefully calling for political and economic reforms, as well as an end to corruption. For 30 years, Hong Kong hosted the largest vigil in the world to commemorate those who stood up for freedom - including those who lost their lives - in June 1989.


On 19 March this year, Hong Kong’s Legislative Council voted to pass the Safeguarding National Security Ordinance under Article 23 of the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution. The ordinance increases penalties for acts relating to sedition and contains many troubling provisions, such as the vague and broadly-worded crime of “external interference” as well as an attack on the right to a fair trial.


Last month, Amnesty published a report about the disturbing campaign of transnational suppression to which students in the UK - and elsewhere - are being subjected.


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