Wednesday, April 8, 2009

CHINA: Time for Justice -- The 20th Anniversary of Tiananmen Square.

On the night of 3-4 June 1989, hundreds of civilians were killed and thousands injured during a military crackdown on peaceful pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square, Beijing. Tens of thousands of others were arrested in the aftermath. Most have since been released, but dozens are believed to remain in prison.

The Chinese authorities have consistently failed to bring those responsible for these serious human rights violations to justice and have suppressed attempts to mark the anniversary of the crackdown. Public debate and discussion of the events is banned, and those seeking justice for the victims and their families have suffered police harassment, arbitrary detention and sometimes imprisonment.

The government has refused to hold a public inquiry into the events of 4 June 1989, despite international appeals. No independent investigation has been carried out, and no one has been brought to justice for their role in the crackdown.

Amnesty International is calling for the immediate and unconditional release of those still imprisoned in connection with the 1989 protests, and for a full and impartial inquiry into the events on 3-4 June 1989, with a view to bringing the perpetrators to justice and providing compensation to the victims and their families.

What is a Tiananmen Rose action?

Years after the Tiananmen Square crackdown, an anonymous Chinese student who participated in the 1989 demonstrations posted a message on the internet explaining her ritual of gathering a bouquet of six white and four red roses each year to mark the anniversary of Tiananmen Square. She wrote of her hope that one day she would be able place such a bouquet in Tiananmen Square, to publicly commemorate the victims without risking reprisals from the authorities.

The six white roses are understood to symbolise purity of heart and the sixth month of the year (June). The four red roses symbolise the passion of their beliefs and the fourth day of the month. Red and white roses are now seen as a symbol of the calls for justice for the victims of the 1989 crackdown in Tiananmen Square. In particular, a bouquet of six white rose and four red roses has become known as a June Fourth bouquet.

Amnesty International Australia would like to replicate this symbolically by asking you to create your own Tiananmen Rose action, making copies of it and asking people you know to sign one, and sending it back to Amnesty International so we can present it to the Chinese authorities on your behalf.

An A4 template of the rose action (4 roses on 1 page), with the slogan 'Time for Justice' written in English and in Chinese characters, will be sent to action groups with the action circular. You can photocopy these templates onto red or white paper or cardboard, cut them up into individual actions, ask people to sign them, and send them back to Amnesty International.

An action circular detailing more of the action, what you as an individual or as a group could do, will be sent to action groups. If you need to talk to someone, please contact your Community Campaigner or call 1300 300 920.

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