Tiananmen Square 25th anniversary: China tightens security in Beijing

Police and paramilitary troops flooded into the vast plaza in the heart of Beijing in anticipation of attempts to publicly commemorate the massacre

Beijing enacted a security clampdown on Wednesday in anticipation of attempts to publicly commemorate the 25th anniversary of the bloody suppression of the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests.

Scores of police and paramilitary troops patrolled the vast plaza in the heart of China’s capital city, surrounding streets, stopping vehicles and demanding identification from passers-by.

China allows no public discussion of the events of 3-4 June 1989, when soldiers backed by tanks and armoured personnel carriers fought their way into the heart of Beijing, killing hundreds of unarmed protesters and onlookers.

The government has never released a death toll for one of the darkest chapters in recent Chinese history, but estimates from human rights groups and witnesses range from several hundred to several thousand.

Pleas from relatives for an admission of wrongdoing and for a complete, formal accounting or the number of casualties have been largely ignored and many people have expressed their frustration at being prevented from organizing public memorials.

Yin Min, whose 19-year-old son, Ye Weihang, was killed in the crackdown, said she wept in grief as she hugged his ashes at home in the morning.

“I told my son this morning, 'Your mother is powerless and helpless, after more than 20 years I don't even have the chance to appeal for support’,” Yin told the Associated Press in a phone interview from her home in Beijing, crying as she spoke.

“I looked at his ashes, I looked at his old things, and I cried bitterly,” she said.

“How has the world become like this? I don't even have one bit of power. Why must we be controlled so strictly this year?”

Near the square in Beijing, reporters were told to leave following the daily crack-of-dawn flag-raising ceremony and there were no signs of demonstrations or public commemorations. Dozens of dissidents and other critics have already been detained by police, held under house arrest or sent out of the city.

Activists say this year has seen a longer and more restrictive clampdown than usual, reflecting the increasingly conservative political atmosphere under President Xi Jinping, who took office last year.

Yin said the authorities' monitoring of her family intensified this year, with round-the-clock police surveillance that started in April. The relatives' plans for a public memorial like ones they had previously held every five years could not be realized, she said.

“You're not only re-opening my scars, you're spreading salt and chili powder into it,” Yin said she told her minders.

“I said, 'You are too inhuman’.”

Authorities allowed relatives of some of those killed in the crackdown to visit their loved ones' graves, but they had to go quietly and under police escort, according to Zhang Xianling, a member of a group that campaigns for the crackdown's victims.

Chinese citizens wait to be allowed to enter a commuter underpass which leads to Tiananmen Square in Beijing Chinese citizens wait to be allowed to enter a commuter underpass which leads to Tiananmen Square in Beijing

The run-up to the anniversary has also been marked by tighter controls on the internet, including disruption of Google services, and tougher than normal censorship of the popular Twitter-like microblogging service Weibo.

“This is the 1,008th post that I've had scrubbed today,” complained one Weibo user, attaching a screen shot of a message received from censors telling him that his post reading ‘It's been 25 years since that event’ had been deleted.

China's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday defended the crackdown, saying the government had chosen the correct path for the sake of the people. The government at the time labelled the pro-democracy movement “counter-revolutionary”.

The protests began in April 1989 as a demonstration by university students in Beijing to mourn the death of Hu Yaobang, the reformist Communist Party chief who had been ousted by paramount leader Deng Xiaoping. The protests grew into broader demands for an end to corruption as well as calls for democracy.

Many Chinese would balk at the idea of mass revolution today. China is now the world's second biggest economy, with most Chinese enjoying individual and economic freedoms never accorded them before.

But Wu'er Kaixi, a leading figure in the pro-democracy movement of 1989, said Chinese people could rise up once more against the Communist Party in anger at anything from endemic graft to the country's badly polluted air, water and soil.

“Yes, you gave us economic freedom, but you are jumping in and looting us, robbing us of our future, corrupting the culture, our values and the environment,” Wu'er Kaixi told Reuters ahead of the anniversary from Taiwan, where he works at an investment firm.

“All this has been clearly and widely expressed by Chinese people in the last two decades. This discontent will emerge into one thing one day: a revolution. I am sure the Communist Party is very well aware of this.”

Meanwhile, exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama urged China to embrace democracy and offering prayers for the protest “martyrs”.

The Dalai Lama, reviled by Beijing as a separatist, made the rare comments at a prayer meeting two years after he renounced politics.

“I offer my prayers for those who died for freedom, democracy and human rights,” the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner said according to a statement that was released by Initiatives for China, a Washington-based group that campaigns for a peaceful transition to democracy in China.

“While great progress has been made to integrate into the world economy, I believe it is equally important to encourage China to enter the mainstream of global democracy,” he added.

“In this anniversary of China's young martyrs, let us pray that the Chinese leaders of today would turn their hearts away from fear and defensiveness, that they would reach out to the victims and victims' families, and repent of the massacre of China's youth.”

A representative of the Dalai Lama's private office in Dharamsala, his base in northern India, confirmed that the statement was authentic.

China's Foreign Ministry condemned the comments.

Additional reporting by agencies

Read more: The massacre as it happened
What happened to Tank Man?
Google block in China coincides with 25th anniversary
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
The Queen and the letter sent to Charlie
football
Arts and Entertainment
Eurovision Song Contest 2015
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
News
Two lesbians hold hands at a gay pride parade.
peopleIrish journalist shares moving story on day of referendum
Arts and Entertainment
<p>
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
</p>
<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
<p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
booksKathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
News
Liz Kendall played a key role in the introduction of the smoking ban
newsLiz Kendall: profile
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?