China: Gag order ahead of Tiananmen anniversary

  • Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times, Beijing
  • Updated: May 30, 2014 01:02 IST

Chinese authorities are marking the upcoming 25th year anniversary of the tumultuous events surrounding the Tiananmen protests of 1989 the only way they know – gagging any mention of the protests that left an unknown number of Chinese students and citizens dead, detaining anyone they suspect could commemorate it in public and tightening security across Beijing as the date looms.

It was June 4, 1989, when the army moved into the Tiananmen Square in the heart of Beijing from all roads leading to it and attacked the student-led protest with, what many critics and activists say, disproportionate might. Officially, few more than 200 died; unofficially, according to researchers, over 3,000 perished.

China’s 600 million-plus smartphone-wielding internet users have no access to information about the protests that grabbed headlines world over in 1989, and will likely to do it again this year, as all mention of the events have been methodically removed.

The tightening of security in Beijing for June 4 this year was preceded by dozens of arrests of rights activists. “Dozens of activists have been detained, placed under house arrest or questioned by police in recent weeks for attempting to commemorate the hundreds, if not thousands, of unarmed protesters and civilians who were killed or injured in the crackdown,” Amnesty International, an international rights body, said in a statement.

Activists say it is clear by the crackdown preceding the Tiananmen anniversary that President Xi Jinping will not tolerate any incident or event that could even scratch the Communist Party of China’s image.

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