Three US-based dissidents involved in 1989 pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square have been denied visas to attend a Hong Kong conference about China’s military crackdown on the demonstrations, an organizer said yesterday.
The Tiananmen crackdown, which killed at least hundreds of people, remains a taboo in China, where the government still considers the student protests a “counterrevolutionary” riot. Beijing has never given a full accounting of the military action.
Wang Dan (王丹) and Wang Juntao (王軍濤) were denied visas when they applied at Chinese consular offices, Hong Kong political scientist Joseph Cheng (鄭宇碩) said in a phone interview. A third, Yang Jianli (楊建利), was denied entry when he arrived at Hong Kong airport three weeks ago, Cheng said.
A fourth dissident, Beijing-based Chen Ziming (陳子明), also said he was unable to attend the conference but it wasn’t clear why, Cheng said.
Wang Dan, one of the student leaders of the 1989 protests, was jailed after the crackdown and went into exile in the US in 1998. He is now teaching in Taiwan.
Wang Juntao and Chen were founders of a private think tank on social issues and advised students during the protests.
Both intellectuals were sentenced to 13 years in jail and freed on medical parole in 1993. Chen was rearrested in 1995 and released in 1996.
Yang, a US permanent resident, also took part in the protests and later served a five-year jail term in China on charges of spying for Taiwan and entering China illegally.
Wang Dan and Yang had previously been denied permission to visit Hong Kong, although Chen was allowed to visit in April 2007 for research.
Wang Dan said last year Chinese officials have refused to renew his Chinese passport, which expired in 2003, and has been traveling on travel documents issued by the US government.
Cheng said he had invited the four dissidents to attend a panel discussion on the Tiananmen protests as part of an academic conference scheduled to be held at the City University of Hong Kong next Tuesday and Wednesday, just ahead of the 20th anniversary of the military crackdown on Thursday.
The Chinese foreign ministry didn’t immediately return a reporter’s call seeking comment on the visa denials. Calls and e-mails to the dissidents weren’t immediately answered.
Hong Kong’s Immigration Department said in statement it won’t comment on Yang’s case.