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China cuts off dissent ahead of Tiananmen anniversary

Posted by Author on May 29, 2009

By Malcolm Moore in Shanghai, Telegraph, UK, 28 May 2009-

Beijing has taken steps to prevent dissent in response to a groundswell of pressure for the authorities to atone for what happened.

Students at Beijing and Dalian Universities have been banned from giving any interviews to the foreign media until after the anniversary.

The Public Security Bureau in Dalian warned: “Any indication of an approach from a foreign journalist must be reported immediately.”

University exams have been scheduled across China on June 4, in what appears to be an attempt to keep students inside their classrooms.

Security officers have also been targeting known dissidents including Bao Tong, 76, an aide to Zhao Zhiyang, the late Chinese leader. He has been taken out of Beijing to the mountain region of Huangshan on Monday.

Bao helped to orchestrate the release of Zhao’s secret memoirs, which revealed clashes at the top of the Communist Party over how to respond to the student protests of 1989.

“When the Communist Party thinks it needs to win the praise and trust of the Chinese people, that is when they will apologise,” he said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph. “But if they think it is not necessary to win that trust and praise, they will never apologise.”

Qi Zhiyong, who lost a leg after being shot in the suppression of the protests, said he had also been forcibly removed from Beijing but allowed to return in order to have access to medication.

“They are strengthening their surveillance over me and escorting me wherever I go,” he said.

Yu Jie, an outspoken writer, sent an email to his friends on Wednesday saying that four plain clothes policemen had been sent to monitor him. “They said they had received orders and the restraint of my personal freedom would remain after June 4,” he said, referring to the date of the anniversary.

According to Radio Free Asia, Zhang Shijun, a former soldier who took part in the armed response has been under house arrest since he published a critical open letter to Hu Jintao, the Chinese president, in March. His wife and daughter have been separated and are being monitored.

Since the beginning of the month, there have been growing calls for the government to admit a massacre took place. Wang Dun, one of the most-wanted student leaders, suggested that Chinese wore white on June 4 in memory of the dead. On Google China, the phrase “6 + 4, 20”, representing June 4, 20th anniversary, was briefly one of the most searched terms.

Yesterday (Thurs), 128 family members of Tiananmen victims issued a public statement calling for a fair and independent investigation, and the publication of the names and number of those who died. They also called for compensation and for “those responsible” to be prosecuted.

Meanwhile, popular internet forums on Baidu, China’s leading internet portal, have been closed down in Beijing and tightly restricted across the rest of China.

In Guizhou, a seminar planned for June 4 to discuss human rights has been shut down by local police, and the organisers were detained. There are dozens of other reports of house searches, including of Zha Jianguo, a founding member of the China Democratic Party. One retired professor was beaten when he tried to visit Zhao Ziyang’s tomb in Jinan.

In Shanghai, petitioners have been warned by the local police not to visit Beijing in the ten day period over June 4.

The Telegraph

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