News / Asia

China Snuffs Out Discussion of Tiananmen

Policemen stand on the road at Tiananmen Square on a hazy day in Beijing on the 24th anniversary of a military crackdown on a pro-democracy movement, June 4, 2013.
Policemen stand on the road at Tiananmen Square on a hazy day in Beijing on the 24th anniversary of a military crackdown on a pro-democracy movement, June 4, 2013.
William Ide
Chinese authorities have taken aggressive steps to snuff out any discussion of the Communist Party’s brutal crackdown of pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square, even as some tried to mark the 24th anniversary of the bloody incident online and in public.

Each year, the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen protests is a sensitive time for authorities in Beijing - who bristle at any criticism of the incident and calls for a fuller official account of what happened more than two decades ago.

Authorities moved quickly this week to block a long list of search topics on social media websites.

On China’s Twitter-like Weibo microblog service, users could not even post candle icons.  Candle icons are a popular way of expressing grief and have been used widely in recent weeks to mark tragedies such as China’s recent Ya’An earthquake and the Boston Marathon bombings

Some, like Rachel Lu, found ways around the ban. “Instead people have been posting photos of candles to show they remember [the June 4th incident],” she said.

Lu is editor of Tea Leaf Nation, a website that monitors Chinese media.  She said what is remarkable is that many who are posting comments are using their real names.

“They are also coming out and sharing their memories of what happened.  So obviously this is not on an anonymous basis," she added. "They are real people and they are sometimes in very prominent positions in society.”

The government has branded the protests a counter-revolutionary rebellion and refuses to re-examine what happened.  Instead it focuses on just how far China has come since then.

The long list of blocked search terms, included words such as 'Tiananmen', '64' or 'June 4th' and 'tank'.  When typed into social media search engines, the response would say such keywords were removed in accordance with relevant laws.

'May 35th' -  a clever equivalent of June 4th designed to get around the Internet ban and even 'today' and 'tomorrow' were also among search topics blocked.

One user's postings in the early hours Tuesday included a picture of sky in China’s capital and read: “Beijing’s sky today is as dark as on June 4th of the 78th of the Republic,’ a reference to 1989.  The Republic of China was founded in 1911 at the end of the Qing empire.

Video clip: Tiananmen Square, past and present

Video clip: China Tiananmen Anniversaryi
X
June 04, 2013 12:14 PM
Chinese citizens remember the Communist Party’s brutal crackdown of pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square on the 24th anniversary

Another user complained about how censors had promptly deleted a post about how they were “in a very somber mood.”

The post said, “any time this day approaches, people do not even have the right to grieve.”

Percy Alpha, (a pseudonym) is with GreatFire.Org, a website that monitors Chinese Internet censorship. “Most of the stuff getting around is very implicit, so if you do not know the incident at all, you won’t get the idea ... although it is kind of an improvement, you cannot actually reach the people who know nothing at all about this incident,” he said.

Residents in Hong Kong last year launched a black-shirt campaign to mark the anniversary and activists in China have expressed interest in joining the movement this year.

Beijing-based activist Hu Jia has launched an appeal online, urging people to wear black on Tuesday.

Ai Xiaomin, an activist in China’s southern Guangzhou province said she will do the same.

Ai said June 4th is a day of anguish for those who lost their loved ones and we should share their burden of pain and together call for a true accounting of what happened.

In the past week, VOA has run into numerous obstacles attempting to conduct interviews on university campuses in Beijing and when trying to speak directly with the families of those killed.  The interviews on university campuses, which are typically freely accessible, were completely unrelated to the events of June 4th.

Reporters were blocked and told to go home Tuesday when they tried to visit Wanan cemetery, a graveyard mothers of the victims visit every year.

You Weijie is a member of the Tiananmen Mothers, a group of parents, friends and families of those killed.  She said June 4th will never fade from people’s memories.

She said although the government censors the Internet and hinders the media from reporting on it, in their hearts the people will never forget what happened, especially those in Beijing.

Although protests are banned in China, organizers of a candlelight vigil in Hong Kong say they expect a record turnout of 180,000.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Ulchi from: US
June 05, 2013 10:04 AM
You can ask Mr. Xi Jingbing directly at Rancho Mirage,California this weekend 11:00 AM Sat. 6/8th/2013.
He may answer your question about Tiananmen 1988.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid