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30 yrs on, US urges China to give details of those killed in Tiananmen square

June 04, 2019 09:46 IST

IMAGE: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Photograph: Piroschka Van De Wouw/Reuters

The United States has urged China to make a full public accounting of those killed and missing in the Tiananmen square massacre three decades ago even as it alleged that the Chinese citizens are being subjected to a new wave of abuses, especially in Xinjiang.

Hundreds of pro-democracy protesters are believed to have been killed on June 4, 1989 in and around Beijing's Tiananmen Square as China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) launched a brutal crackdown on those demonstrating against the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC).

The massive square became famous all over the world with an iconic picture of a young man standing before a row of battle tanks in a bid to stop them.

 

'We urge the Chinese government to make a full public accounting of those killed or missing to give comfort to the many victims of this dark chapter of history.

'Such a step would begin to demonstrate the Communist Party's willingness to respect human rights and fundamental freedom,' Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on the occasion of 30th anniversary of Tiananmen Square.

Pompeo called on China to release all those held for seeking to exercise these rights and freedom, halt the use of arbitrary detention, and reverse counterproductive policies that conflate terrorism with religious and political expression.

'China's own Constitution stipulates that all power belongs to the people. History has shown that nations are stronger when governments are responsive to their citizens, respect the rule of law, and uphold human rights and fundamental freedom,' he said.

Noting that the event 30 years ago still stirs the conscience of freedom-loving people around the world, Pompeo said that over the decades that followed, the US hoped that China's integration into the international system would lead to a more open, tolerant society.

'Those hopes have been dashed. China's one-party state tolerates no dissent and abuses human rights whenever it serves its interests.

'Today, Chinese citizens have been subjected to a new wave of abuses, especially in Xinjiang, where the Communist Party leadership is methodically attempting to strangle Uighur culture and stamp out the Islamic faith, including through the detention of more than one million members of Muslim minority groups,' Pompeo said.

Even as the party builds a powerful surveillance state, ordinary Chinese citizens continue to seek to exercise their human rights, organise independent unions, pursue justice through the legal system, and simply express their views for which many are punished, jailed and even tortured, he alleged.

'On June 4, we honour the heroic protest movement of the Chinese people that ended on June 4, 1989, when the Chinese Communist Party leadership sent tanks into Tiananmen Square to violently repress peaceful demonstrations calling for democracy, human rights, and an end to rampant corruption.

'The hundreds of thousands of protesters who gathered in Beijing and in other cities around China suffered grievously in pursuit of a better future for their country,' he said.

The number of the dead is still unknown, Pompeo said.

'We express our deep sorrow to the families still grieving their lost loved ones, including the courageous Tiananmen Mothers, who have never stopped seeking accountability, despite great personal risk,' he said.

Senator Marco Rubio said that 30 years after the tragic events of Tiananmen Square, the free world is faced with an increasingly aggressive Chinese Communist government that is more repressive domestically, ignoring international norms, and is exporting its authoritarian model globally.

"As we honour those who died at Tiananmen and those whose lives were irrevocably altered by that day's events, we recommit ourselves to exposing and pushing back against the Chinese government's egregious and systematic human rights abuses and increasingly sophisticated surveillance regime, including in Xinjiang where China has detained over one million Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim minorities to so-called 'political re-education camps'.

"To do anything less dishonors the spirit of Tiananmen," he added.

Lalit K Jha
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