News / Asia

US Calls for Release of Detainees on Tiananmen Anniversary

A Chinese police officer points as he speaks to a Chinese man held at a security checkpoint on Tiananmen Square in Beijing Wednesday, June 4, 2014.
A Chinese police officer points as he speaks to a Chinese man held at a security checkpoint on Tiananmen Square in Beijing Wednesday, June 4, 2014.
Victor Beattie
The United States has called on China to free those detained ahead of the 25th anniversary of the violent Tiananmen Square crackdown on democracy activists which is believed to have left hundreds dead. A prominent Chinese dissident told a Washington audience the Chinese people are overcoming their fear of the government and speaking out more boldly for democratic change, which he said is ‘inevitable.’
 
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf Tuesday called on Beijing to release all those detained ahead of the June 4 anniversary and allow for greater freedom of speech and expression in China.
 
"We very clearly called on the Chinese authorities to release all the activists, journalists and lawyers that have been detained ahead of the 25th anniversary.  This is something we’ve been very clear about.  China is a growing country.  We’ve talked a lot about the fact that this is not a zero-sum game here, and as they grow I think it’s time to allow some more space, quite frankly, for discussion in their own country, particularly around this kind of anniversary,” said Harf.
 
In a statement Wednesday from Poland, President Obama said the United States continues to honor the memory of those who gave their lives in and around Tiananmen Square in 1989. He called on Beijing to give a full accounting of those killed, detained or missing in connection with the crackdown. He also urged China to guarantee the universal rights and fundamental freedoms of all Chinese citizens.
 
Blind dissident Chen Guangcheng, a self-taught lawyer who escaped house arrest in 2012 and was allowed to emigrate to the United States from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, told the American Enterprise Institute in Washington Tuesday that while there has been great economic progress in China, there has been very little political reform. He said people are still afraid to speak out about the June 1989 massacre.
 
Speaking in English publicly for the first time, Chen said a government that cannot face its own history is a government without a future. He praised the opening of a museum in Hong Kong dedicated to remembering the Tiananmen Square crackdown. He said it is part of a global narrative that reminds the Chinese government the anniversary has not been forgotten.
 
"Every candlelight vigil makes the perpetrators shudder in fear. It gives people courage to think and speak aloud again," said Chen.
 
Chen thanked those who, in his words, refused to bury history and have pursued the truth about what happened 25 years ago.
 
"Today, many Chinese people are beginning to awaken. They are overcoming their fear and working for democracy. The Chinese will change, but we must stop the Communist Party from brutalizing and suppressing the Chinese people," Chen continued.
 
He called on the outside world to look beyond China’s economic success and help end Internet censorship and, in his words, break down the Great Firewall of China.

Memorials and Protests for the Tiananmen Anniversary
 
  • A woman closes her eyes as she joins tens of thousands of people attending a candlelight vigil at Victoria Park in Hong Kong to mark the 25th anniversary of crackdown in Tiananmen Square, June 4, 2014.
  • Tens of thousands of people attend a candlelight vigil at Victoria Park in Hong Kong to mark the 25th anniversary of crackdown in Tiananmen Square, June 4, 2014.
  • Tens of thousands of people attend a candlelight vigil at Victoria Park in Hong Kong to mark the 25th anniversary of crackdown in Tiananmen Square, June 4, 2014.
  • Tens of thousands of people attend a candlelight vigil at Victoria Park in Hong Kong to mark the 25th anniversary of crackdown in Tiananmen Square, June 4, 2014.
  • A protester wears a T-shirt with a tank during a protest in front of the Chinese Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, June 4, 2014.
  • A protester holds a model of a tank covered with red paint to represent blood during a protest in front of the Chinese Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, June 4, 2014.
  • A protester holds a banner with others and shouts slogans in front of the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo, June 4, 2014.
  • A demonstrator shows a letter of protest before dropping it into the mailbox of the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo, June 4, 2014.
  • A shopper in Hong Kong stands in front of a model tank made by university students to remember the crackdown in Tiananmen Square, June 3, 2014.
  • A woman looks at photos at a memorial in Washington for the crackdown in Tiananmen Square, June 3, 2014. (Zhi Yuan/VOA)
  • Speakers address the crowd at a memorial in Washington for the crackdown in Tiananmen Square, June 3, 2014. (Zhi Yuan/VOA)

Jared Genser, a human rights lawyer with Freedom Now, said that even though one-third of Chinese today were born after 1989, the proliferation of mobile phones and efforts to break down the firewall have made people more aware of what happened. He anticipates justice will eventually be done.
 
“Not necessarily justice in terms of holding individual perpetrators to account, but ultimately any authoritarian government is going to come to a point in its existence where the population is going to demand an accountability for past wrongs," said Genser.
 
Genser acknowledged that, as China rises, it becomes more immune to outside pressure to improve its rights record. However, he said, he remains optimistic because the Chinese people are speaking out, with an estimated 120,000 protests taking place over economic issues annually. He said the government is losing the information war and is being pressured to become more responsive to public demands.

You May Like

Anti-Terror Drills Highlight China’s Push Into Central Asia

China, Russia, several central Asian countries wrap up massive anti terrorism military drills in Inner Mongolia More

Erdogan’s First Step: Secure More Power in New Role in Turkey

Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey's first popularly elected president on Thursday; he picked former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as PM More

Pakistan Army Fails to Break Political Deadlock

PM Sharif claims he didn't ask army to defuse crisis; military rejects claim More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Ryk from: Airstrip One
June 04, 2014 5:38 AM
How will America answer when the Chinese counter with the question of Guantanamo Bay?

In Response

by: Dan from: Boston
June 04, 2014 12:43 PM
How can you even compare the two events? Not even the slightest bit similar in any fashion.

In Response

by: Freedom_is_not_free from: USA
June 04, 2014 11:18 AM
Ryk,


Don't compare those peaceful protest Chinese students with terrorists. Those at Guantanamo Bay are terrorists who kill innocence people and against human rights. If you want to compare apple to apple, let compare Chinese communist government with those at Guantanamo Bay. Both are killing innocence people.

In Response

by: jonathan huang from: canada
June 04, 2014 11:07 AM
@Ryk, america says the Guantanamo bay prison is necessary to american interests!
the american interests are always the priority, for sure!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid