This month marks the fifteenth anniversary of the Chinese government’s crackdown on peaceful demonstrators in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square and elsewhere in China. On June 3rd and 4th, 1989, Chinese government troops suppressed a pro-democracy protest and killed hundreds of unarmed demonstrators. Many more were arrested.
Since that time, China has made much progress in opening up to the world. But it has continued to suppress political dissent. As recently as March 2004, Chinese security forces arrested three outspoken relatives of victims of the Tiananmen Square crackdown. The three women belong to a group known as the Tiananmen Mothers and are working to get the Chinese government to give a full and public accounting of what happened in June 1989.
Ding Zilin is one of those detained. Her seventeen-year old son was killed in the 1989 crackdown. “The Chinese government can talk with other countries or world organizations,” she told a reporter. “But why can they not talk to us, their people, the people they have ruined?”
Lorne Craner, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, says China remains a major violator of human rights:
“You do see numerous, serious abuses, quickness to suppress human rights there.”
Mr. Craner says the U.S. is “supporting those Chinese...who are trying to advance structural reforms”:
“We will not see change overnight, but over the long term these processes offer, perhaps, the best hope for a democratic China.”
The pressure for democracy and human rights in China will continue to grow.