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Tiananmen leader, blocked, returns to Taiwan

A prominent student leader in the 1989 Tiananmen pro-democracy protests returned to Taiwan on Thursday after failing to enter China on the 20th anniversary of Beijing's bloody crackdown on the demonstrations.

world Updated: Jun 04, 2009 14:36 IST
Min Lee

A prominent student leader in the 1989 Tiananmen pro-democracy protests returned to Taiwan on Thursday after failing to enter China on the 20th anniversary of Beijing's bloody crackdown on the demonstrations.

Wu'er Kaixi said police officers in the southern Chinese territory of Macau deported him by carrying him onto a Taipei-bound plane Thursday.

The 41-year-old was denied entry into Macau late on Wednesday and spent the night in a detention center at Macau's airport. "I would much rather be standing today in Beijing to commemorate my departed fellows," Wu'er told reporters in Taipei. "I feel sad because their dreams are yet to be fulfilled. I feel sad because justice is not upheld."

One of the best known leaders from the Tiananmen student movement, Wu'er rose to fame as a pajama-clad hunger striker haranguing then-Chinese premier Li Peng at a televised meeting during the protests in Beijing.

In an earlier statement issued through a friend, Wu'er said he wanted to turn himself in to the Chinese government so he can visit his parents, who haven't been allowed to visit him in Taiwan "I used the most mild way of trying to enter China and they still wouldn't let me in," he said.

Macau's government confirmed denying entry to Wu'er on Wednesday but didn't have immediate comment on his deportation. Chinese authorities apparently wanted to avoid calling more attention to the Tiananmen anniversary, the crackdown on the protests left at least hundreds dead, by arresting a high-profile figure like Wu'er.

In his earlier statement, Wu'er said he wanted to engage the Chinese government in a public dialogue about Tiananmen. "When I turn myself in, I will use the platform of a Chinese courtroom to debate the Chinese government about this incident," he said.

Wu'er added he believes he did nothing wrong by taking part in the 1989 protests.

"My turning myself in should not be interpreted as my admission that my behavior 20 years ago is illegal and wrong. I want to reassert here the Chinese government bears complete and undeniable moral, political and legal responsibility for the tragedy that happened in China in 1989," Wu'er wrote.

Named No. 2 on the Chinese government's list of 21 wanted student leaders after the military crackdown, Wu'er escaped and has lived in exile in the democratic self-ruled island of Taiwan, where he has worked as a businessman and political commentator. He is now a Taiwanese citizen.

The student leader who topped that most-wanted list, Wang Dan, was jailed for seven years after the crackdown before being expelled to the United States in 1998 amid international calls for his release.