Police thwart Tiananmen Square anniversary protest

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The Independent Online

Chinese authorities successfully thwarted attempts yesterday to commemorate the 11th anniversary of the massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square.

Chinese authorities successfully thwarted attempts yesterday to commemorate the 11th anniversary of the massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square.

Amid tight security in the square, police arrested a man trying to unfurl banners. Up to 10 arrests were made in Peking and other cities, and dissidents were prevented from gathering.

Shen Zhidao, a supporter of the banned China Democracy Party, was arrested with banners bearing slogans such as "Overthrow despotic communism". Police detained other dissidents, including democracy campaigners and Protestant activists who intended to gather to mark the anniversary in Peking and Xi'an.

The Hong Kong-based Information Centre of Human Rights and Democracy said 50 activists around China held a 24-hour hunger strike to commemorate the day.

Yesterday's events followed much the same pattern as recent years. The official pressignored the anniversary ofan incident the government continues to refer to as a"counter-revolutionary rebellion". Hundreds were killed in and around Tiananmen Square on 4 June 1989 when the army brutally ended six weeks of peaceful demonstrations.

For many dissidents, the government's attitude towards the massacre remains a barometer of political change. As President Jiang Zemin was a direct beneficiary of June 4 - elevated to power in the wake of the massacre - little change is likely in the short-term.

In a statement released on Saturday, the veteran activist Ren Wanding said that a reassessment of the Tiananmen verdict would mark "the foundation stone of social democracy, reconciliation, national stability, popular well-being, and national strength and prosperity. The day 4 June is rehabilitated will necessarily be the day of democracy."

Ren is one of the few dissidents able to speak openly, though his remarks are not reported. Most dissidents are exiled or jailed, such as Jiang Qisheng, who remains detained without sentence a year after circulating a petition calling on people to remember the 10th anniversary of Tiananmen with a candle-light vigil.

A former student demonstrator from north-east China, one of the last to leave the square in 1989, said: "Before too long, I believe the verdict will be changed. I would take part again, but maybe try to protect myself more than before."

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