Tiananmen freedom plea

As China prepares for the post-Deng era, a group of 45 elderly scholars, intellectuals and political activists called on the Communist government to release political prisoners, including those jailed after the June 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, writes Teresa Poole.

The appeal, obtained yesterday by Reuters news agency, was written by Xu Liangying, a 75-year-old scientist, and signed by the group of backers. When the ailing Mr Deng, 90, finally dies, the most sensitive political issue will be whether to reassess the official verdict that the 1989 protests were "counter-revolutionary". The statement says: "In the United Nations Year for Tolerance ... we hope the authorities will ... reappraise the 4 June incident and release from prison all those involved." It also calls for greater tolerance of independent political and religious beliefs.