06/04/2012, 00.00
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Hundreds of activists arrested across China to prevent Tiananmen commemoration

In every city, police is ordered to arrest anyone who tries to commemorate the 23rd anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre. In Ghuizhou, police take away a group of senior citizens who organised a sit-in to mark the event. In Hong Kong, a museum shows young Chinese the truth about what happened in 1989.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - China has arrested activists and placed others under increased surveillance to stop them from marking the 23rd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Similar reports are coming in from the country's main cities, the capital Beijing but also Shanghai (east), Fuzhou (southeast) and Guiyang (southeast). In the capital, more than a hundred activists were not allowed to leave their homes. In Guizhou, police took into custody a group of senior citizens taking part a sit-in to commemorate the victims. Access to the Internet has also been reduced. Sites deemed dangerous have been blocked or shut down.

China's Foreign Ministry expressed "strong dissatisfaction" over a statement by US State Department spokesman Mark Toner calling on Beijing to free those still in prison for their involvement in the protests.

Overnight on 3-4 June 1989, Communist soldiers crushed a student protest, killing thousands of activists and ordinary citizens. The total figure is unknown, and estimates vary according to the sources.

Chinese authorities never gave a full account of what happened when the military moved against protesters, nor has it authorised an independent investigation.

In fact, speaking about or just mentioning the massacre is impossible in China. Nevertheless, many mainlanders have secretely travelled to Hong Kong to take part in the annual rally organised by the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China.

According to the Alliance's president Lee Cheuk-yan, more than 150,000 people took part in today's march.

Yesterday, hundreds of people, many tourists, also visited a museum with an exhibit on the student movement. Many mainlanders who visit the former British crown colony can find out what happened that day, something carved in the memory of older Chinese, but unknown to younger Chinese. Since it opened in april, the museum has received more than 7,000 visitors, 1,400 from the mainland.

Speaking to Hong Kong's South China Morning Post, a young female student from Beijing, Selina, who was born in 1989, said that people of her generation don't know what happened in Tiananmen on 3-4 June 1989. Her parents told her the crackdown brought chaos to the capital, leaving them unable even to buy milk for her. That was all she knew about Tiananmen.

''Now I know," she said, "why the students were protesting" and why the party crushed them.

Another young mainlander who declined to give her full name said she found out about the museum online.

''I thought June 4 was some revolution for social welfare in China,'' she said. ''Now I realise it was a brutal and extreme suppression by the government. June 4 must be vindicated as soon as possible.''


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