Wednesday, June 6, 2012

23 years after the Tiananmen Square Crackdown in China

Human Rights are still nonexistent in China

Residents of Hong Kong remember June 4, 1989 victims

Twenty three years later the men who committed a slaughter of nonviolent demonstrators remain free with impunity and some of those who peacefully demonstrated are still in prison today. Requests by the United States and France for these prisoners of conscience to be released are rejected. Another after unjustly serving 22 years in prison and one year out of prison has been found dead under suspicious circumstances.

The events of that day are systematically censored and scrubbed from publications and the internet.  Internet censorship by the Chinese communist regime does everything possible to erase the hope of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations and the brutal crackdown that began on June 4, 1989. The numbers 6, 4, and 89 have been censored along with "today."

Despite that cracks of light break through exposing the fear of the dictatorship. The Shanghai stock index fell 64.89 points on the anniversary of the massacre. On top of that the Shanghai Composite Index opened at 2346.98 on the this the 23rd anniversary.

These are two creative examples of nonviolent resistance that break through the censorship and remember the victims of an atrocious crime. In Hong Kong, tens of thousands turned out to remember the thousands of victims of the Tiananmen crackdown.

Li Wangyang, labor activist and former prisoner of conscience found dead

At the same time an ominous death underlined the observance of this grave injustice, Li Wangyang, 62, a labor activist from Hunan province who led workers in sympathy protests during the 1989 student demonstrations in 1989 and served 22 years in prison. He was found early Wednesday morning hanging by a bedsheet from security bars over  a window. Officials said it was suicide. The evidence indicates otherwise.

Li, who was  blind and mostly deaf, could not and would not have killed himself. According to a family member: "He could barely hold a bowl without his hands shaking. I can’t imagine how he could have tied his sheets into a knot," said Zhao. He noted that there were guards assigned to the hospital to watch Li.  "How could this happen when there were security guards watching him? We have many questions."
Like the Ladies in White in Cuba the Tiananmen Mothers are working for justice for their loved ones and homeland while seeking freedom for those unjustly imprisoned. Below is their letter on the 23rd anniversary of that horrible day.

Never Forget.

Commemorating the 23rd Anniversary
of the Passing of the Victims of the 1989 June Fourth Crackdown
May 31, 2012
This year marks the 23rd anniversary of the passing of the victims of the 1989 June Fourth crackdown. This autumn, the Communist Party of China (CPC) will hold its 18th National Congress.
We recall that 10 years ago, the new administration of President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao was established during the 16th Party Congress. At that time, we, the Tiananmen Mothers, solemnly issued the following appeal to the new session of the CPC Central Committee:
We sincerely appeal to the Party’s new Central Committee to take the opportunity of resolving the June Fourth issue to allay the people's discontent, defuse a crisis, achieve reconciliation between the government and the people, and systemically prevent large-scale social unrest from occurring.
If the Party acknowledges not in words but in practice that democracy and human rights are the universal values pursued by modern, civilized people, and are the only way in which China can modernize, then we as Chinese citizens would have reason to look forward to this: that the new Central Committee will use the courage and vision responsible for the long-term interests of the country and people to re-evaluate June Fourth and put a decisive end to the obsolete one-party dictatorship system, thereby promoting and proceeding in comprehensive reform politically, economically, and socially.
A pity! These ten years passed like a dream.
Ten years ago, the Party and country's leaders at least verbally acknowledged that democracy and human rights were universal human values. But today, the mainstream media and the Internet in mainland China have swept “universal values” into the garbage heap, not to mention the idea that democracy and human rights are the only way for China to modernize. A just resolution of the June Fourth issue remains far off as well. When looking to the future, people feel utterly helpless and confused.
People also notice that the problems raised by the Tiananmen Mothers in those early years have not lessened; rather, they have increased and intensified at a rapid pace. China's violations of human and civil rights have reached an extreme level, the gap between rich and poor has widened dramatically, systemic corruption is out of control, the moral bottom line is near collapse, sudden mass incidents keep occurring again and again.... Maintaining stability has become China's top priority in order to preserve the firmness of the ruling party’s power. The massive institutional damage to the Chinese nation over this past decade is incalculable.
China has experienced rapid economic development during Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao’s term. This could have provided a golden opportunity to initiate systemic political reform and a just resolution to the problems that have remained after June Fourth. However, the ossified bureaucrats, with Hu Jintao at the helm, kept to the beaten path and let the historic opportunity for a peaceful transformation over these ten years slip by for nothing.
In this oppressive and stagnant political climate, Wen Jiabao alone has repeatedly called for political reform, saying that there is no other choice but to move forward with reform and that stagnation and decline provide no prospects for the future. He went so far as to echo Deng Xiaoping on his Southern Tour in 1992: “To not pursue reform and opening up will lead only to a dead end.” During the National People’s Congress (NPC) and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) sessions earlier this year, Wen also said, “Without successful political reform, the gains we have made in our economic reform may be lost, and such historical tragedies as the Cultural Revolution may happen again in China.” His words sounded truthful, and his tone was earnest. But even as our fellow countrymen admired what he said, it also made us feel that it was more talk than promise.
As if this were a deliberate recitation, a March 20 article in the Financial Times reported that in recent years, Wen Jiabao has proposed redressing June Fourth on three separate occasions in secret meetings with the CPC leadership. Each time, his proposal was blocked by his colleagues. This kind of rumor also makes people wonder.
While Wen Jiabao’s discussion about redressing June Fourth cannot be verified, we hope that his calls for political reform are genuine. But even if they were, what can be done in reality?
China's current political system is convoluted, and the slightest change in any one part can affect the entire system. In China today, the special interest group cannot be destabilized by any one influential person. Its interests have been maximized and solidified and are well networked. The group resembles the four great clans shielded by the “Official’s Protective Charm” in the classic novel A Dream of the Red Chamber. Under the Charm, these clans “were closely connected, all got hurt when any one of them got hurt, all received honor when any one of them was honored, helped one another to conceal things, and looked after one other.” In the eyes of the people, even if Wen Jiabao were genuinely proposing to redress June Fourth, he would still have to retreat when he runs into this “Official’s Protective Charm.” At best, his would be nothing more than an effort to secure a decent reputation posthumously.
As could be expected, Wen Jiabao lamented the difficulties of reform in a press conference during the NPC and CPPCC sessions: “Reform will not be able to succeed without the consciousness, the support, the enthusiasm, and the creativity of our people.” This is tantamount to telling the people that they cannot rely on the CPC leadership, or the few uncorrupt leaders within the Party, to implement reform. Rather, they can only rely on the vast power of the people and the pressure from them. Historical experience has made clear for a long time that Chinese people experienced an awakening through the violent storm of 1989. The unprecedented enthusiasm and creative spirit demonstrated by the millions of people in Tiananmen Square have long been entered into the annals of history. Scenes of that storm are still fresh in the mind of every eyewitness. The fact is that the people's awakening, enthusiasm, and creative spirit were crushed to pieces by the tanks and machine guns of those with might. Not long after, people were forced to forget, to gradually erase the events from their memory. We believe that the only way forward for China's rulers is to atone and make up for the sins of their past. There is no other way. It is never too late to salvage the situation.
Our demands are the same as always. So long as the Tiananmen Mothers exist, our struggle for justice will not cease. So long as we can protest, our three demands—for truth, compensation, and accountability—will remain. We will not give up, and we will not change.
May the souls of the victims of June Fourth soon rest in peace!
[Full list of signers available here]

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