(Trying Not to) Remember Tiananmen

© 1989 Hei Han Khiang

© 1989 Hei Han Khiang

It seems Chinese authorities were busy today. While people around the world commemorated the 20th anniversary of the pro-democracy demonstrations and ensuing massacre at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, police reportedly swarmed into the sqaure, in order to nip any potential protest in the bud. Numerous websites were blocked, including Twitter, Hotmail, and Flickr, along with many Chinese blogs and other sites. A former Tiananmen protester was sent on a government-sponsored “vacation” to keep him from carrying out a hunger strike.

Although the Chinese government seems to be doing all it can to help people forget about the people who died in the massacre, that didn’t stop 150,000 people from attending a vigil in Hong Kong, and it didn’t stop supporters in Washington, DC, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, from speaking out about human rights in China.

Regardless of what one thinks of the demands the protesters were making 20 years ago today, no one can deny that there was a massacre, and nothing can justify killing peaceful protesters. The country may have come a long way economically since 1989, but China’s human rights record still leaves a lot to be desired.

Tiananmen 20th Anniversary Coming Up

© 1989 Hei Han Khiang

© 1989 Hei Han Khiang

As I’m sure many of you know, June 3-4, 2009 marks the 20th anniversary of the 1989 military crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square.

Two decades after the crackdown, about 50 people who were involved in the demonstrations are believed to remain in prison. The Chinese authorities continue to refuse to carry out an open, independent and impartial inquiry into the events of 1989, and no one has been brought to justice for their role in the crackdown. Attempts to mark the anniversary of the crackdown have been suppressed, and public debate or discussion of the events is banned.

This Thursday, Amnesty International is co-sponsoring an event on Capitol Hill to commemorate the 20th anniversary. Speakers will include House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as well as survivors of the Tiananmen crackdown and other prominent faith, government and human rights leaders, as well as Amnesty’s own T. Kumar.

If you’re not in the DC area, there are lots of other events happening around the country and around the world this week. Get involvedkeep the memory of Tiananmen alive!