06/02/2011, 00.00
CHINA – TIBET
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Beijing cannot pay money to compensate for the Tiananmen Square massacre

Tibetans and Indians express their solidarity towards the Mothers of Tiananmen and their movement as they seek the truth of what happened on 4 June 1989. For the former prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile, Beijing “is brutal to everyone, against minorities but also its own people”. Its offer of money in lieu of an apology is “unreasonable”.
Dharamsala (AsiaNews) – “China is brutal to everyone, against minorities but also its own people, and not only in the case of the massacre of Tiananmen Square. The brutal repression continues even today; Tibetans, Mongolians, Uyghurs, ethnic Manchurians, everyone is suffering,” said S Rinpoche, former prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile. Speaking to AsiaNews, he said that Beijing’s persecution is a constant feature of Chinese policy, one that has not changed in decades.

Rinpoche told AsiaNews that China’s policy is to destroy the national and cultural identity of the Tibetan people as well as that of the country’s 55 ethnic minorities. To achieve its goal, it “uses every method available, however oppressive or brutal, in order to eliminate the linguistic, cultural, and spiritual heritage of the Tibetan people.”

However, Beijing is oppressive against its own people. Twenty-two years have gone by since 4 June 1989, when the Chinese military fired on students and workers who were peacefully occupying Tiananmen Square, demanding democratic reforms. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, were killed.

Since then, a veil of censorship has descended upon the affair. Yesterday, the Mothers of Tiananmen, an organisation that brings together the parents of the young people who died or disappeared during the massacre, issued an open letter, condemning the government for offering compensation, whilst  refusing to remember the dead or engage in an open discussion about what happened.

For Rinpoche, “It is makes no sense to offer compensation to the Mothers of Tiananmen” without accepting to talk about the massacre. “It is unreasonable,” he said. “We do not have words to console the Mothers of Tiananmen. China does not accept that this kind of massacre is inappropriate. Its government shows neither regret nor remorse. We can only suffer with them and condemn this horrific and inexcusable incident.”

Beijing, in its persecution of the Tibetan people, has banned Nyung Ne (the traditional fasting Buddhists undertake during the month of Saka Dawa) for the monks and the faithful of Drepung Monastery, one of three main places of worship in Tibet (see “Tibet, Beijing prohibits religious rituals,” in AsiaNews, 1 June 2011). The authorities have been putting pressure on the monastery for months because the site has become a rallying point for all those who oppose Communist domination of the region. But, so far, they have allowed religious services.

“However, whilst we expect such repressive measures from the Chinese government, it is truly unfortunate that the international community has nothing to say. The silence of the nations of the world is most regrettable because an entire people and its culture face genocide. Even in the 21st century, a people is deprived of security and its culture is not safeguarded. There is no organisation, institution or agency willing to stop these things or even raise its voice against them. It is truly disheartening.”

Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), strongly condemns Beijing’s refusal to apologise to the Mothers of Tiananmen, but also the silence of the international community. Speaking to AsiaNews, he said, “The massacre of Tiananmen Square on 4 June is an attack against humanity. The GCIC stands in solidarity with the Mothers of Tiananmen. The government of China refuses to acknowledge that this massacre was a serious violation of human rights and it is tragic that some continue to claim that it was an uprising against the state.”

“Now the government is trying to suppress the affair by offering compensation without apologising for its military action. This is unacceptable. China’s economic power might offer economic benefits in exchange of human lives and dignity, but it cheapens the value and dignity of human life itself. If everything can be paid with money, human dignity is lost. The GCIC is very concerned and saddened by such dehumanisation.”

“In the last few months, Beijing has been worried about the spread of the Jasmine Revolution, which seeks greater democracy. Chinese authorities fear that the winds of change might sweep other countries with totalitarian regimes. They must be really desperate if they are now trying to pay money for the blood that was shed during the 4 June massacre,” George said.

“We cannot allow any nation to get away with human rights violations against innocent people. The GCIC stands by the Mothers of Tiananmen so that they may be able to continue their struggle for justice and accountability.”

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