07/06/2022, 12.56
CHINA
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Former 1989 Movement student leader goes on hunger strike in prison

Xu Guang was detained by the police on the eve of 4 June, which is the anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre. He was imprisoned for demanding the return of his confiscated mobile phone. For years he has been calling for a review of the official verdict on the 1989 repression.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Xu Guang, a formerleader of the 1989  student protest movement, has been on hunger strike for days in Xihu prison in Hangzhou (Zhejiang). Radio Free Asia quoting people close to the activist reports that the arrest took place in early June, but the authorities only notified the family on 2 July.

The police initially approached him in the capital's central square on the eve of 4 June, the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre when security forces killed thousands of peaceful demonstrators demanding more democracy and freedom. At the time, Xu was leading the protests at Hangzhou University. Every year, the authorities order the activist not to raise the matter in public.

After an interrogation at Yuquan police station, officers confiscated his mobile phone before releasing him. Immediately afterwards, in protest, Xu returned to the police station demanding the return of the mobile phone. He did so by waving a banner that read 'Reverse the official verdict on 4 June', referring to the government's position on what actually happened in Tiananmen: at first, the Chinese government condemned the 1989 demonstrations as 'counterrevolutionary riots', and then described them as 'political riots' that were suppressed with 'resolute measures'.

Xu was arrested on the spot. The charge against him is 'provoking riots', which is often used against political activists. Xu was already in prison from 1998 to 2003, convicted for trying to formally register the Democratic Party of China, which was banned by the authorities.

He has repeatedly asked the government to review the official verdict on the 1989 demonstrations. For recalling the events of 4 June, Xu was imprisoned back in 2014, accused of "wanting to disturb the peace".

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