06/04/2009, 00.00
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Twenty years on: yes to tourists, no to journalists in Tiananmen Square

by Wang Zhicheng
The site of the massacre is surrounded by police and tourists can only enter by passing through checkpoints. Foreign journalists and photographers are banned. 160 internet sites have been closed down and 65 democracy activists have been arrested or are under police surveillance. A message from the Dalai Lama marking June 4th asks the Chinese government to review its judgement, in order to really become “a great nation”.
Beijing (AsiaNews) – On the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre of 20 years ago, the place where the slaughter was carried out is today shrouded in a security blanket with thousands of uniformed and plain clothes police on patrol.  Over 160 internet sites have been closed down and 65 people are under house arrest or have been forced to leave Beijing.

Foreign journalists and photographers have been banned from entering the square, for no apparent reason.  Chinese and foreign tourists can only gain access to the square by first passing through police checkpoints, where there passports and identity cards are checked, the bags searched for “bombs”, in reality, for leaflets or banners that exalt the student’s movement.

Other areas of the city are also under control.  In past weeks, many democracy activists and protagonists of the movement of 20 years ago have been forced to abandon Beijing or have been placed under house arrest.

China Human Rights Defenders (Chrd) has drawn up a list of 65 names of people who have been arrested, sequestered or interrogated by the police because of the Tiananmen anniversary. Among those even signatories of the charter 08, a manifesto on human rights that asks the government to stop the corruption in the current Party and to open up to dialogue with the people through freedom of press and association and a multi-party system.

Over 160 internet sites have been shut down for “system maintenance” in order to stop the spread of information on line regarding activities in China and around the world linked to Tiananmen.

From Dharamsala, the Dalai Lama has published a message to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen democratic movement.  The exiled Tibetan leader says he “respectfully honours” the dead of June 4th and asks the Chinese government to answer the questions of its people.  “The students involved in the Tiananmen Square movement – he continues - were neither anti-communist nor anti-socialist. Their speaking out in defence of the Chinese people’s constitutional rights, in favour of democracy, and taking a stand against corruption, truly conformed to the underlying beliefs of the Chinese Communist government”.

The Dalai Lama asks the Chinese government for “courage and far-sightedness”, and appeals that in commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Republics foundation this October, China “review the events of June 4, 1989”. Only in this way will the “superpower” enhance “its international standing as a truly great nation”.

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