China clamps down on anniversary protests

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The Independent Online
DISSIDENTS WERE under tight surveillance yesterday as police cordoned off the grave of Hu Yaobang, the reformist leader whose death exactly 10 years ago sparked China's 1989 pro-democracy movement. At least two dissidents have been prevented from travelling to Mr Hu's grave in the south-east province of Jiangxi.

China's leadership fears that a string of imminent anniversaries could be a focus for protests over grievances, including rising urban unemployment and corruption. "We have been ordered by our superiors not to organise or encourage students to mourn Hu Yaobang," said an administrator at Gongqing College in Gongqingcheng city, where Mr Hu's grave lies.

Yesterday morning in Jiangxi, a journalist for the Associated Press saw several motorcades with police escorts entering the Yaobang cemetery, which was closed to the public. The reporter was then detained by police for four hours and afterwards ordered not to leave his hotel.

In Peking, a member of the China Democracy Party, Gao Hongming, said he and two colleagues from the outlawed group had paid their respects to Mr Hu - who was the Communist Party head for six years in the Eighties - near Tiananmen Square on Wednesday, even though they were tailed by police. Yesterday, he was under tighter surveillance.

"The China Democracy Party, like the people of China, will cherish forever those who speak the truth and do good deeds for the people," the dissidents said in a statement to mark the anniversary.

Mr Hu was the most reformist of China's leaders but was ousted in January 1987, for being too soft on "bourgeois liberalism". Just two days after his death was announced on 15 April 1989, the first procession to Tiananmen Square took place, starting a movement which ended on 4 June when tanks and soldiers swept through Peking.