On the eve of the 19th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre of 4 June 1989, Reporters Without Borders calls for the release of the four journalists and cyber-dissidents who are in jail for taking a position on this taboo subject and condemns the relentless censorship about the massacre, in which at least 2,000 Chinese students and workers died.
All the Chinese media are forbidden to refer openly to what was a major event in contemporary Chinese history. Censorship is also extremely severe on the Internet.
"The Chinese authorities are trying to use the Olympic Games to make people forget what happened on 4 June 1989 in Tiananmen Square," Reporters Without Borders said. "But the sports events and the festivities that will take place in this central Beijing square in August will not be able to erase this dark page in China’s history. It is deplorable that the Communist Party has spent the past 19 years using censorship and repression in an attempt to wipe out the memory of the Beijing Spring."
The press freedom organisation added: "While the International Olympic Committee’s executive committee meets tomorrow in Athens, we asks its president, Jacques Rogge, to call for the release of prisoners of conscience before the start of the Beijing Olympics. Those freed should include journalist Shi Tao, who is serving a 10-year sentence for sending an email about the Tiananmen Square events."
Reporters Without Borders, which gave a news conference in Athens on 30 May about the games, recently revealed that an IOC memo defended the choice of Tiananmen Square as the venue for an Olympic torch ceremony on the grounds that it was "one of the world’s most famous public squares." The IOC also described the decision to start the Olympic marathon in Tiananmen Square as a matter for the Chinese. "The IOC is a sports organisation," the memo said. "It is not appropriate for us to dictate the usage of sites that may have an historical and political significance for large numbers of people."
As the Red Army’s tanks crushed the Beijing student uprising on 4 June 1989, the authorities launched a massive crackdown in which thousands of people were arrested. According to Human Rights Watch, at least 130 people are still in prison for taking part in the student insurrection.
The Chinese people are still prevented from making free use of the Internet to find out what happened on 4 June 1989 in Beijing and other Chinese cities. Any attempt to search for "Liu Si," the Chinese abbreviation for 4 June, on the Baidu or Sohu search engines is completely blocked and results in the connection to the site being reinitialised.
If the same search is made on Sina or Google.cn, the overwhelming majority of results are not about the 1989’s bloody events but about Tiananmen Square as an historic place. The links to articles overtly about 4 June 1989 are blocked. When you click on these links, the connection is reinitialised.
No reference to 4 June is allowed in the press without specific permission from the government. Several senior members of the staff of the newspaper Chengdu Wanbao were fired in June 2007 for permitting the publication of an announcement on its website paying homage to the courageous mothers of 4 June - a reference to the mothers of the Tiananmen Square victims who defend their memory.
Shi Tao of the daily Dangdai Shang Bao (Contemporary Business News) is one of the journalists and cyber-dissidents who are in prison because of the stance they have taken on the massacre. Shi was convicted of "illegally divulging state secrets abroad" on 30 April 2005 because he forwarded an internal email message about Tiananmen Square anniversary coverage to a friend based outside the country.
Shi acknowledged forwarding the message, which warned of the dangers of social unrest and destabilisation linked to the return of dissidents to Beijing for the anniversary, but he disputed its confidential nature. Since his arrest on 24 November 2004 in the northeastern city of Taiyuan, he has been held in a detention centre in the southern city of Changsha, where he is forced to work.
Agence France-Presse has reported a reinforcement of the normal police presence in Tiananmen Square on the eve of the anniversary. Surveillance had also been stepped up outside the homes of several dissidents. Chen Xi, a dissident based in the in the central city of Guiyang, was prevented from boarding a flight to Beijing, where he had intended to participate in activities in solidarity with the victims.
"I could not go to Beijing but I will nonetheless protest at a distance to show our disapproval of the government," he wrote on the overseas Chinese website Boxun. He said he planned to organised a silent gathering and commemorative activities on the Internet.
The same Boxun article also reported that surveillance of Qi Zhiyong, who lost a leg during the repression, was stepped up three weeks ago.
Ding Zilin, the mother of one of the massacre victims, posted an open letter to the authorities on the Tiananmen Mothers website (www.tiananmenmother.org) calling for the national flag to be flown at half mast in honour of the Tiananmen victims as it was for the victims of the recent earthquake.
On the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, Reporters Without Borders calls on the Chinese authorities to:
- release the 31 journalists and 48 cyber-dissidents who are currently in prison
- abolish press and Internet censorship about the events of 4 June 1989
- stop harassing journalists who participated in "Beijing Spring" and stop employing abusive measures (including house arrest, tailing and phone tapping) against them
- allow exiled journalists and dissidents to return to China in complete safety
- allow the Chinese and international press to report freely on the activities of dissident groups.
在1989年6月4日天安门事件十九周年纪念日之际，无国界记者再次要求释放由于对“六四”事件持不同意见而入狱的四名记者和互联网异见人士。“六四”事件中，至少两千名中国学生、工人遇难，因受到查禁，中国各媒体对此中国当代历史上如此重大事件缄口不言，无国界记者对这种严厉的审查制度深表遗憾和痛惜。 无国界记者称，“距奥运会开幕还有两个月，中国政府试图让人们淡忘1989年“六四”天安门事件。十九年来，中国共产党要通过镇压和审查竭力抹去北京1989年那个春天的记忆。不过，八月份在北京举行的体育比赛和天安门广场上的庆祝活动不会撕去中国历史阴暗的一页。在2008年5月30日雅典举行的新闻发布会上，无国界记者称，“国际奥委会执行委员会在6月4日在希腊雅典召开会议，我们呼吁Jacques Rogge表明立场，支持在奥运会前释放由于政见不同而入狱的犯人，尤其是因寄出一封有关天安门事件的电子邮件而被判十年徒刑的记者师涛。” 四月，无国界记者公布了一份秘密备忘录：奥委会支持在天安门广场为奥运圣火举行庆祝仪式。因为这是“世界最著名的广场之一”。奥委会把马拉松长跑起点的决定权交付北京的组织者，备忘录指出，“奥委会是一个体育组织，对我们来说，由于历史或政治原因而指责应用某些场地的做法很不合适”。 1989年6月4日，中国军队的坦粉碎了北京学生运动，政府的镇压浪潮导致几千人入狱。据人权观察组织称，目前，至少仍有130人由于参加了当时的学生运动在监狱服刑。中国网民无法从中国的互联网上获取1989年6月4日天安门事件的有关信息。在搜索引擎“百度”、“搜狐”上，输入“六四”结果只会一无所获，网页会自动被刷新。在“新浪”、“中国谷歌（google.cn）”上，大多数搜索结果只是把天安门作为名胜古迹介绍。有关“六四”天安门事件的文章链接会被阻止。如果网民点击这些链接，网页会自动刷新。在媒体上，如果没有政府的同意，任何有关“六四”事件的报道都不允许发表。2007年6月，《成都晚报》的几名总编被撤职，原因是他们刊出了某组织的一个广告，而这则广告颂扬的正是天安门事件遇难者母亲们的勇气。在“六四”事件持不同意见的记者和网络异见人士中，《大连商报》的师涛就是其中之一。师涛把报社里一篇提醒记者维护社会稳定以及天安门事件纪念日来临之际可能面临的危险的内部参考消息发给了国外的一位朋友。2005年4月30日，石涛以“向外国泄露国家机密”的罪名被判刑。师涛承认通过电子邮件把该文章发给了朋友，但是，他对文章是否属于机密提出质疑。自2004年11月24日石涛在长沙被拘留后，一直被关押在看守所内，后被迫到太原劳动改造。在“六四”事件日念日前夕，法国新闻社观察到天安门广场上警察数量增多，对不同政见者的住宅监控程度加强。陈希，就是其中之一。他本计划在贵阳乘飞机赴京参加一场“六四”事件纪念活动，但由于受阻未能成行。陈西在博讯网站上表明，“尽管不能去北京，但是，身在异地的我还要有所行动，以表明对政府行为的不满。”对此，他计划组织静坐集会，并在网络上组织纪念活动。博讯网上的同一篇文章还提到了二十几天来，在“六四”中失去一条腿的齐志勇受到严密监控的消息。 “六四”事件一名遇难者的母亲丁子霖在天安门母亲网（www.tiananmenmother.org）上发表了一封给政府的的公开信，要求像对待四川地震的遇难者一样，降半旗纪念1989年“六四”运动的遇难者。