06/03/2010, 00.00
CHINA – HONG KONG
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Beijing, arrests and threats on the eve of the Tiananmen anniversary

Police places activists under close watch or makes them “disappear temporarily” fearing they might try to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the 4 June massacre. In Hong Kong, police for the first time moves against demonstrations. In the mainland, at least four protesters arrested in 1989 are still in prison.
Beijing (AsiaNews) – Every year, the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre is marked in Beijing with arrests and “temporary disappearances”. The Chinese government refuses to acknowledge openly its use of brute force against harmless demonstrators, and silences Chinese citizens who might want to commemorate the event and its victims. In the meantime, at least four activists involved in the 1989 protests are still languishing in prison.

Last year, the authorities sentenced three activists who tried to mark the 20th anniversary of the slaughter to “re-education-through-labour”.

This year, the 21st anniversary, crackdown has come to Hong Kong where police seized two replicas of the ‘Goddess of Democracy’, the statue students put up in Tiananmen Square in 1989, and which demonstrators in the former British crown colony had prepared for the night vigil this year (pictured).

In Hong Kong, where the massacre has always been commemorated, this is an unprecedented act of interference.   The replicas were eventually handed back to organisers, but the sculptor that made them, Chen Weiming, was banned from entering Hong Kong.

For Chinese Human Rights Defender (CHRD), matters are worse in mainland China. For several days, police has been following activists, warning them not to organise events or commemorations for 4 June.

Since this morning, Teng Biao, a human rights lawyer in Beijing, has been under house arrest and guarded by police officers from the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau (PSB).

In addition, this morning, three Beijing PSB police officers visited the home of Wang Debang, a freelance writer and human rights activist in Beijing, and warned him of grave consequences if he organised activities to commemorate the occasion.

In Xi'an City, Shaanxi Province, Yang Hai told fellow activists that the police were on their way to his home to take him away for “a trip.” Since then, no one has been able to contact him.

Also in Xi'an City, the local National Security Bureau invited human rights defender Zhang Jiankang for tea on 28 May; he has not yet come back.

Yesterday, Liu Xianbin, a dissident based in Suining City, Sichuan Province, has been under house arrest.

Mu Jiayu, a Chongqing activist, has been followed by four police vehicles since Tuesday.

According to the CHRD, at least 906 people were arrested following the 1989 protests. Four of them, Zhu Gengsheng, Yang Pu, Li Yujun and Miao Deshun, are still in prison.

Last year, the authorities announced the release of Song Kai, Chang Jiangqiang and Shi Xuezhi after 20 years in prison, but no one has been able to get in touch with them.

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