Tiananmen Square Anniversary -- China Steps Up Repression
With the 20th anniversary of Tiananmen Square approaching, Chinese authorities have stepped up surveillance of activists and human rights workers. People have been detained and threatened with violence for pursuing their legal rights.
In the first four months of 2009, Amnesty International has documented at least four cases of lawyers who were threatened with violence by the authorities as they defended their clients, at least ten cases where lawyers were hindered from meeting or representing clients, and at least one case in which a lawyer has been detained for doing his work.
“If anything, the crackdown on human rights activists is escalating as we approach the 20th anniversary of the 1989 Beijing pro-democracy protests,” said Roseann Rife, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Deputy Director. “Most worrying is the complete disregard for national laws and the obstructions thrown in front of lawyers trying to do their jobs.”
April 1989 saw more than a million people gathered in Tiananmen Square demonstrating their peaceful support for democratic reform. Tents were set up and the 'sit in' continued until the nights of June 3 and 4 when the authorities sent in military. Thousands of unarmed demonstrators were killed and many more injured.
I was in Chengdu a couple of years after Tiananmen Square. The ordinary people there were still so spooked by the repressive regime that they only referred to the incident as 6, 4, 9 not daring to speak the words.