Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Remember: June 4th is the 19th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre

On the eve of the 19th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre (June 4,1989) the United States urged China to give a full account of what really happened at Tiananmen Square that day and to release prisoners taken during the protests.
A State Department spokesman was quoted as saying: "The time for the Chinesegovernment to provide the fullest possible public accounting of the thousands killed, detained, or missing in the massacre that followed the protests is long overdue."
50 to 200 people are still believed to be behind bars for participating in the nationwide protests 19 years ago. The US spokesman described the killings as "brutal and tragic events,"and called on China to take steps to improve its global image before the Olympic Games in Beijing in August. He urged China to "move forward with a reexamination of Tiananmen, to release all Tiananmen-era prisoners, and to cease harassment of the families of the victims of Tiananmen," the statement said.
"These actions, together with steps to protect the internationally recognized fundamental freedoms of Chinese citizens, will help China achieve its goal of projecting a positive image to the world."
My husband and I spent time in China during the 1980's and on returning to the states had an opportunity to be a host family for several students from the mainland studying at UCLA at the time of the Student Democracy Movement. In fact, we have written a novel called Rabbit in the Moon with this incident as a backdrop. So we are well aware of the fact that the Chinese government has never acknowledged what happened. In fact, recently the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters in Beijing that China has no intention of revising its verdict on the protests despite calls for the Chinese government to stop labeling the student movement a "counterrevolutionary rebellion." "Regarding the political incident that took place at the end of the 1980s, there is already a clear conclusion," he told reporters yesterday (June 3rd) He refused to discuss the subject further, saying the events in 1989 were an internal matter for China. He also brushed aside calls for the improvement of human rights ahead of the Olympic Games in August.
Today we should all remember what did happen: the Chinese government gunned down peaceful pro-democracy protesters on and around Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989, leaving hundreds and possibly thousands dead.

Read Rabbit in the Moon by Deborah and Joel Shlian (Oceanview Publishing), a novel set during the most tumultuous seven weeks in recent Chinese history- from the riseof the Student Democracy Movement on April 15th to its fall at Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.
For more information, go to

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