Anniversary of the Tiananmen Crackdown

Press release
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two months ahead of the Olympics: Time for action

June 4, 2008, marks the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, when tens of thousands of students and workers peacefully gathered on Beijing’s main square and in other major Chinese cities to demand political reform and respect for democracy and human rights.

Nineteen years later, an unknown number of people are still in prison in relation to the 1989 protests. The Tiananmen Mothers, a group of relatives of those who died on Tiananmen Square, are still unable to mourn in public; their demands for the release of all people in prison for their role in the 1989 protests, a full and public accounting for the June 4th crackdown, and dialogue with the authorities continue to go unaddressed.

This year, the anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown takes on a very special meaning: the Olympics will be held in Beijing this August. This worldwide event symbolizes a further opening of China to the outside world, with billions of dollars invested in the event. However, despite this opening, repression of individuals continues to worsen, as exemplified by the ongoing detentions of human rights activists, political dissidents, journalists, lawyers, and petitioners, or by the violent crackdown in Tibet last April.

June 4, 2008 will also be the day the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee will be meeting in Athens, Greece. The next meeting of which will take place in Beijing in August, on the eve of the opening ceremony of the Games.

"We support the calls of the Tiananmen Mothers, who each year issue statements urging for the release of all persons still detained in connection with the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown, an investigation and accounting for the events of June 4, 1989, and dialogue with the authorities," said Sharon Hom, Executive Director of Human Rights in China. More generally, FIDH and HRIC call for the release of all human rights defenders in detention and prisoners of conscience before the Olympics. "The IOC, whose Executive Committee is meeting in Athens on this very anniversary day, should use all its leverage to obtain such gestures from the Chinese authorities: there are only two months left for action," concluded Souhayr Belhassen, President of FIDH.

This year also witnessed a powerful earthquake in southwest China that killed tens of thousands of people and left millions more without homes. Human Rights in China (HRIC) has prepared an Action Bulletin providing information on the evolving situation and what the international community can do to help the disaster relief ( Our organizations have serious concerns regarding the immediate and long-term challenges of this disaster on health, education, housing, and other related human rights.

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