And the Communist attack on
freedom goes on
Chinese Communist authorities clamped down on activists commemorating victims of 1989 student-led pro-democracy protests on Tiananmen Square and other petitioners as the nation observed its annual grave-sweeping festival over the weekend.
Members of the Tiananmen Mothers advocacy group, which represents all victims of the crackdown who died or were maimed, told Hong Kong media they were prevented from traveling to the graves of their loved ones ahead of the Qingming holiday, which fell on Friday but is honored throughout the weekend.
Chinese authorities keep relatives of those who died in the 1989 military crackdown around Tiananmen Square under house arrest and close surveillance as the politically sensitive anniversary approaches each year, beginning ahead of the traditional Chinese grave-sweeping festival in April reports Radio Free China.
Political activists are typically also prevented from holding any kind of public memorial to mark the crackdown, in which the People's Liberation Army (PLA) used machine guns and tanks against unarmed protesters and hunger-striking students.
Tiananmen Mothers member Zhang Xianling said she had managed to evade police surveillance by pretending to "go to the bathroom" and travel together with her husband out to Beijing's Wan'an cemetery where her son Wang Nan is buried.
"After we swept my son's grave, we also bowed in front of the graves of other victims of the June 4 [incident]," she told Hong Kong's Cable TV.
BBC News - June 4, 1989, Tiananmen Square Massacre
|Long Shot Tiananmen Square protests of 1989|
At the height of the protests, about a million people assembled in the Square. the Tiananmen Square Massacre as troops with assault rifles and tanks inflicted casualties on unarmed civilians trying to block the military's advance towards Tiananmen Square in the heart of Beijing, which student demonstrators had occupied for seven weeks.
Estimates of up to 6,000 people were killed by the Communists.
|1989 - Tiananmen Square|
Meanwhile, dozens of petitioners—ordinary Chinese who pursue long-running complaints against the ruling Chinese Communist Party—gathered outside Beijing's southern railway station on Friday, carrying banners commemorating activist Cao Shunli, who died on March 14 in police custody after her lawyers said she was denied medical treatment by her detention center.
And a group of 15 petitioners from the southwestern province of Sichuan succeeded in laying wreaths on the tombs of several revolutionary leaders in Beijing's Babaoshan crematorium, petitioner Xu Bicai said.
Many more had converged on Babaoshan with similar ideas, Xu told the Sichuan-based Tianwang rights website.
"The police took away six bus-loads of petitioners from Baobaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery," he said.
In the eastern province of Shandong, police placed at least 10 rights activists under surveillance ahead of the festival.
|Dr. Sun Yat-sen|
President of the non-Communist
Republic of China
'Normal memorial activity'
But more than 20 activists managed to evade state security police and arrive at Zhongshan Park in the provincial capital Jinan to commemorate late ousted premier Zhao Ziyang, activists said.
But state security police snatched away their banner commemorating Sun Yat-sen, who founded the Republic of China after the 1911 revolution, before reluctantly allowing them to continue with the ceremony.
China's army of petitioners—many of whom are older people with little or no income who have pursued complaints about forced eviction, loss of farmland, or wrongful injury or death for many years to no avail—frequently use the image of revolutionary heroes and former leaders as an implied criticism of the current regime.
"They thought we were disturbing public order, but we hung in there after we put up the banner, because we weren't making a huge fuss, and we weren't disturbing social order," activist Li Hongwei told RFA on Saturday.
"This was a normal memorial activity; why shouldn't we be allowed to remember? As citizens, we should have that freedom," he said.
"After that, we bowed three times to Sun Yat-sen, and spoke briefly about his life."
Li said retired Shandong University professor Sun Wenguang had planned to attend the event, but was unable to leave his apartment, as he was being closely watched by at least 10 officers.
Repeated calls to Sun's home phone number and cell phone rang unanswered on Saturday.
|Chai Ling speaks at the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.|
|Tiananmen Square, June 4, 1989|