China urged to release Tiananmen protesters before Beijing Olympics

China urged to release Tiananmen protesters before Beijing Olympics

[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] Tuesday called on China to release the remaining imprisoned Tiananmen Square [BBC backgrounder] protesters as part of a wider effort to improve the nation's human rights image before the 2008 Olympic Games. HRW urged [press release] the government to reverse its official 1989 classification of the protests as a "counterrevolutionary rebellion", release a complete list of casualties, compensate the victims, and allow future public demands for government accountability. Chinese officials have consistently refused to reverse [AFP report] the official 1989 classification, and a spokesman would not comment on the remaining HRW demands. Reuters has more.

The Tiananmen protests began in April of 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 Tuesday that unnamed sources had estimated 600 people were killed [ICHR report, in Chinese].