Commemorative activities organized by the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China (The Alliance) were brought to an abrupt halt by police on May 29th and 30th.
The organizers had followed procedures for regulating public assemblies, but the police claimed additional ‘entertainment’ licenses were required, confiscated exhibits including two statues of the Goddess of Democracy and arrested 15 people.
Amnesty released a public statement commemorating today’s anniversary, in which we condemned the Chinese authorities’ efforts to cover up the massacre and bring those responsible into investigation. Furthermore, we continue to urge the Chinese government to stop suppressing citizens who exercise their fundamental rights to freedom of expression.
One such case where the government’s crackdown on free expression has been apparent is that of Shi Tao, a journalist and poet based in Hunan province. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2005 for his email communications about the 1989 massacre. After using his Yahoo! email account to send pro-democracy messages to foreign websites, he was charged with “illegally providing state secrets to foreign entities”.
Internet company Yahoo! disclosed the contents of Shi Tao’s personal email messages where he summarized a Chinese Central Propaganda Department communiqué on how journalists should handle the 15th anniversary of the 1989 crackdown. The company’s role in turning over this information was key evidence leading to Shi Tao’s conviction.
Shi Tao, and countless other individuals, are still imprisoned for their communications about the 1989 crackdown. And after 21 years of suppressing Chinese expression, it’s painfully clear that justice and freedom are long over-due.