Sat, Feb 28, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Group calls for investigation into Tiananmen

AFP , BEIJING

Relatives of people killed in China’s crushing of the 1989 Tiananmen democracy movement have called for those responsible to be punished as the 20th anniversary of the bloody crackdown approaches.

In an open letter to the country’s communist rulers ahead of the annual full session of parliament starting next week, the “Tiananmen Mothers” also urged an investigation into the military’s actions on June 3 to June 4, 1989.

“The ‘June Fourth’ massacre has long secured its place in history’s hall of shame. It absolutely cannot be diminished as a ‘political disturbance’ or even a ‘serious political disturbance,’” said the letter, released by the New York-based Human Rights in China.

“It was nothing short of an unconscionable atrocity. No amount of force can negate the bitter reality of the hundreds and thousands of lives snatched away by guns and tanks 20 years ago,” the letter said.

The mothers asked that the government officially acknowledge the crackdown, “publicly announce death tolls” and “investigate ‘June Fourth’ cases to determine those responsible and punish them.”

China’s army gunned down hundreds, perhaps thousands, of peaceful protesters and citizens in the streets of Beijing in June 1989 after six weeks in which an unprecedented pro-democracy movement had begun to gather pace.

The Tiananmen Mothers has delivered numerous petitions to the congress, none of which has received a response.

“Another year has passed now, yet we have heard nothing,” said the letter signed by 127 relatives, which was dated Thursday.

China’s Communist Party has never offered a full account of the crackdown and has branded the pro-democracy protests a counter-revolutionary rebellion, hunting down ringleaders and jailing hundreds of suspects.

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