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Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen demonstrations that ended in violent suppression

Statements by world leaders and elected government officials

United States: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a statement calling on the Chinese government to “examine openly the darker events of its past and provide a public accounting of those killed, detained or missing.” The US House of Representatives passed a resolution calling for “full and independent investigations into the Tiananmen Square crackdown, assisted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the International Committee of the Red Cross.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao urging the release of ten key prisoners of conscience.

Tibet: His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s statement pointed out that the students in 1989 were “speaking out in defense of the Chinese people’s constitutional rights, in favor of democracy, and taking a stand against corruption, truly conformed to the underlying beliefs of the Chinese Communist government,’ and thus “the forthcoming 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China presents a great opportunity to review the events of June 4,1989.”

Taiwan: President Ma Ying-jeou’s published statement observed that “this painful chapter in history must be faced. Pretending it never happened is not an option.” He noted that over the past decade, China has “paid greater attention to human rights than before,” and that “this shows a robust openness and confidence on their part.”

Several Western leaders also commented on the eve of the anniversary. Edward McMillan-Scott, vice president of the European Parliament, wrote in an op-ed piece that “Europe's stance toward human-rights abuses in China has become increasingly spineless.” Also, it was reported that German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon paid tribute to the Tiananmen victims.

Chinese Dissidents, Partners and Civil Society

The Tiananmen Mothers, a group of mothers who lost their children during the protests, demanded “Truth, Compensation, Accountability” in their statement. They called for an independent investigation of the June Fourth events, adoption of a “June Fourth Incident Victim Compensation Bill,” and prosecution of those responsible.

A group of 28 Chinese pro-democracy groups both in and outside China issued a joint statement called on the Chinese government to “acknowledge the Tiananmen Massacre…, release all the political prisoners, and establish an impartial ‘truth and reconciliation’ committee of citizens.”

In an open letter to China’s leaders, five former June Fourth political prisoners focused on the problems of unemployment and lack of pensions that former political prisoners face, emphasizing that “an individual’s political problems should be separated from economic problems.” Wu Gaoxing, a co-signer, was detained by authorities immediately after the letter went public.

The Chinese Human Rights Defenders has released “The Legacy of Tiananmen: 20 years of Oppression, Activism and Hope,” a report that overviews human rights abuses against Tiananmen protestors and their families, and includes lists of 195 individuals killed, 57 injured, 15 executed and 905 incarcerated as part of the crackdown.

In Hong Kong, a candle-light vigil organized by the “Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democracy Movements of China” was attended by over 150,000 people. Click here to see the “Declaration of the March to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the June 4th Massacre.”

The Taiwan Association for Human Rights and leading human rights activists in Taiwan issued a statement decrying the “collective amnesia” of Taiwanese people and politicians with regard to June Fourth and the human rights situation in China. They called on all sectors of Taiwanese society “to support the prosecution of those responsible for June 4th, and to push for democracy in China”.

Leading international NGOs also drew attention to the Tiananmen anniversary. Amnesty International called for an inquiry into the Tiananmen Square crackdown. Reporters sans Frontiers staged a protest outside the Chinese Embassy in Paris displaying the image of “tank man” and made a statement about internet censorship in China. Freedom House also issued a press release denouncing China’s new internet restrictions two days before June Fourth, such as blocking websites such as Twitter, Flickr and Hotmail.

On another note, the International Campaign for Tibet published an analysis of US Congress legislation (known as the 1990 “Tiananmen Sanctions”) and whether the Chinese government has met these requirements with regards to protecting human rights in Tibet.

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