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AI: China must end crackdown on Tiananmen Square commemorators

Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] on Monday said that Chinese authorities must put an end to the persecution of those remembering victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] crackdown as its twenty-fifth anniversary nears. AI also called for the unconditional release of Gu Yimin, who was found guilty [Al Jazeera report] on Monday of inciting state subversion by a court in Changshu for attempting to post images of the 1989 crackdown online last year and applying to stage a protest on its twenty-fourth anniversary. Yimin's lawyer maintained that the judgment violated the constitution and that Yimin was exercising his right to free speech, adding that he would appeal the verdict. AI's China Researcher, Anu Kultalahti, stated [press release] that the twenty-fifth anniversary could mark the start of the "annual round-up of activists attempting to remember the tragic events of 1989," and that the authorities should acknowledge what really happened in order to deliver justice to those victims.

The Tiananmen protests began in April 1989 with mainly students and laborers protesting the Communist Party of China. The Chinese government declared martial law in May and initiated the violent dispersal of protesters by the People's Liberation Army on June 4. The Chinese government has never publicized official figures, but the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights & Democracy [advocacy website] reported last year that unnamed sources had estimated 600 people were killed [ICHR report, in Chinese]. In 2012 Chinese authorities detained hundreds of activists [JURIST report] in Beijing marking the twenty-third anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown. In 2011 the US State Department urged the Chinese government to release protestors arrested for peaceful protests in the square in 1989. Human rights and democracy advocates in 2009 called on the Chinese government [JURIST report] to investigate the 1989 uprising, provide an accurate count of those killed in the government's response to the uprising, and to accept reform outlines set forth in the Charter 08 proposal. In August 2008 Chinese authorities released [JURIST report] activist Hu Shigen [profile], sentenced to 20 years in prison for carrying out counterrevolutionary propaganda, including organizing events commemorating the uprising.

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