Entries in Tiananmen Square (3)


Tiananmen Square Quietly Remembered 23 Years Later

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BEIJING) -- Monday marks the 23rd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, but in China any mention of that day remains verboten.

The Chinese government, which forbids any recognition of the massacre and the events leading up to it, has taken special measures in the last few days to further censor acknowledgement of the protests.  Chinese micro-bloggers on the popular site Sina Weibo particularly felt the effects of censorship.  Dissident posts were “harmonized,” or removed, in minutes, profile pictures could not be changed and the candle emoticon was removed.

The list of blocked words was extensive, including words, names and numbers that related to the incident from “never forget” to “tank” to “-ism.”  On television, the BBC’s channel was blacked out during their segment on Tiananmen.

In the square Sunday, a small group of protesters were beaten and detained, Mao’s mausoleum was closed, and large groups of uniformed and plainclothes police monitored the area.  On Monday, it was quiet, save for slightly heightened police presence.

The government, however, hasn’t been able to control all responses to the anniversary.  The U.S. Department of State issued a statement acknowledging the loss of life in the massacre, and encouraging the Chinese government’s protection of human rights.

The Tiananmen Mothers group called for the end of communist rule, and micro-bloggers have encouraged sympathizers to wear all black and “stroll” in public places.

In Hong Kong, a temporary Tiananmen Massacre museum is open for the week, and a book reexamining the events of the Tiananmen Square protests and based on interviews with then-Beijing Mayor Chen Xitong is due to be published on Friday.

After the death of pro-reform Communist Party leader Hu Yaobang on April 15, 1989, students from many Chinese universities gathered in the thousands in Tiananmen Square, calling for increased government transparency and personal freedoms.

After government negotiations failed to clear the square of protesters, who had been occupying Tiananmen for nearly two months, military forces from the People’s Liberation Army took drastic action on June 4, 1989, using tanks, tear gas and gunfire.  The PLA forces opened fire into the crowds, killing what human rights organizations have estimated to be hundreds to thousands of unarmed civilians.  The Chinese government has never released official death toll figures.´╗┐

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Physicist Fang Lizhi, China's Most Prominent Dissident, Dies at 76

John B. Carnett/Popular Science/Getty Images (NEW YORK) -- Fang Lizhi, a physicist and one of China's most prominent dissidents and human rights advocates, died on Friday at age 76, the New York Times reports.

Lizhi, a scientist, endured persecution by the Chinese government throughout his life and eventually gained many followers in China for speaking out against the Communist system. He published a letter to Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1989 to petition for the release of political prisoners, which spawned a student-led pro-democracy movement that culminated in the infamous Tiananmen Square massacre. Lizhi sought refuge with his family at the American Embassy in Beijing until being granted permission to leave the country a year later.

Lizhi later taught physics and spoke out on human rights at the University of Arizona in Tucson until his death. His son Fang Ke said that the cause of his father's death is unknown.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio´╗┐


Chinese Government Boycotts Nobel Prize, Hands Out New Award

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(BEIJING) – China awarded the Confucius Peace Prize Thursday, its version of the Nobel Peace Prize, after a long campaign to vilify this year's Nobel Peace laureate, Chinese pro-democracy activist Liu Xiaobo.

To the dismay of human rights activists around the world, Beijing has conducted a sweeping crackdown on dissent and demanded that other governments boycott Friday's Nobel ceremony in Oslo.

"The Chinese government is not happy that Liu Xiaobo is receiving this award, and that was to be expected," Minky Worden, the director of Global Initiatives at Human Rights Watch, said. "But the overreaction that we've seen from Beijing is not worthy of a government that projects [itself] abroad as a strong, confident, growing and responsible power."

Liu, 54, whose long career of activism stretches back to the 1989 Tiananmen Square movement, was sentenced last year after he co-authored a manifesto calling for human rights and political reform titled "Charter 08."

Rights group Amnesty International estimates more than 250 people have either been stopped from going abroad, detained, or put under house arrest ahead of Friday's ceremony, as part of a clampdown in China that has blocked Western media. BBC and CNN's websites were both down in China on Thursday, while BBC is completely blocked on television. Though CNN's broadcast is still up, all reports about Liu and the Nobel Prize are blocked.
Meanwhile, China presented the inaugural Confucius Peace Prize at a ceremony Thursday, honoring a man who was not aware he was receiving the award. The office of former vice president of Taiwan, Lien Chan, said he had not heard of the Confucius award, and he was not present at the ceremony to collect it. Instead, a young girl, of no relation to the recipient, accepted the award of $15,000.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio