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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

World must pressure China over Tiananmen: dissidents

May 10, 2009

May 8, 2009

BEIJING -- Dissident victims of China's crackdown
on the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests have called
for world pressure on Beijing to reverse the
official verdict on the incident as its 20th anniversary is approaching.

Failure to stand up to a rising China over the
"atrocity" of June 4, 1989, tacitly abets
Communist Party repression, they said.

"So far, the international community... has
adopted a policy of appeasement towards the
Chinese government," said Ding Zilin, whose
teenage son Jiang Jielian was shot dead by the army.

"They are lenient towards this atrocity," said
Ding, 72, a former philosophy professor and now
leader of the Tiananmen Mothers, which for 20
years has unsuccessfully pressured the government to be heard.

Early on June 4, Chinese tanks and soldiers
rolled into Tiananmen Square, killing hundreds,
and possibly thousands, as the government moved
to crush weeks-long pro-democracy demonstrations
that had hugely embarrassed the ruling Communist Party.

China's government has refused to provide a full
account of the bloodshed, which remains a taboo
subject in China and is only referred to
officially as a "political disturbance", if mentioned at all.

But foreign pressure for a reassessment of the
incident and rehabilitation of its victims,
living or dead, is vital on the 20th anniversary
if China is to have any hope of healing "the
wrongs of the past," dissident Bao Tong said.

"A government that is not responsible to its own
people cannot be responsible toward the rest of the world," he said.

Bao, 76, a former top aide to late Chinese leader
Zhao Ziyang, was arrested after Zhao himself was
purged for sympathising with the protesters. He
has spent most of the last 20 years in jail,
under house arrest or facing other restrictions.

"Not wanting to offend China means they cannot
help China, cannot help China's people attain
their own rights, and cannot help the world
community gain a reliable, stable, peaceful member," he said.

"This is not a good thing. If (the world) does
not care, then they bear a large part of the responsibility."

In common with previous years, China is widely
expected to tighten security as the anniversary
nears, to thwart any calls for a reassessment.

Dissidents have already reported being detained
and harassed on the April 15 anniversary of the
death of reformist communist leader Hu Yaobang.
It was Hu's death that sparked the calls for
political reform that led to the Tiananmen demonstrations.

But Qi Zhiyong, who lost a leg after being shot
on June 4, echoed other dissidents in saying the
Communist Party would never come clean on its "crimes" at Tiananmen.

Qi, 52, calls the party a "Chinese dynasty"
committed solely to its own survival, through violence if necessary.

"As long as the party does not reassess their
judgement on June 4 and acknowledge that it was a
patriotic and democratic movement, then democracy cannot advance here.

"It means that all they say about advancing
democracy and human rights are lies," he said.
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