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SLUG: 2-314591 China / Detentions







INTRO: Chinese security agents have arrested three outspoken relatives of victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators. V-O-A's Luis Ramirez reports from Beijing.

TEXT: The New York-based group "Human Rights in China" and press reports quote witnesses as saying plain clothes police this week arrested two mothers whose sons were killed by Chinese army soldiers during the 1989 crackdown. Also reported to have been detained was the widow of one of the demonstrators killed.

Chinese officials had no immediate reaction to the reported detentions.

All three women belong to a group known as the Tiananmen Mothers, which has been working to get the Chinese government to reassess the 1989 incident and compensate the victims' families.

Hundreds of mostly young people were killed when soldiers used guns and tanks to crack down on unarmed demonstrators in Beijing's Tiananmen Square on the night of June 4, 1989. The government refers to the non-violent demonstration as an anti-government riot and has suppressed any effort to commemorate or hold public discussions on the incident.

One of the people detained this week is Ding Zilin, an outspoken member of the Tiananmen Mothers group and former university professor whose 17-year-old son, Jiang Jielian, was shot to death in the crackdown. Speaking to a reporter several months ago, she explained what she and other relatives want the government to do.


We want a fair solution from the government. By fair, I mean first, they have to accept to talk face-to-face with the victims' families. The Chinese government can talk with other countries or world organizations, but why can they not talk to us, their people - the people they have ruined? Our relatives loved and died for their country, so their death has to bring some justice.

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Human rights advocates say the Chinese government does not appear ready to admit any wrongdoing in the 1989 crackdown. Nicolas Becquelin is with the Human Rights in China Group.


The June 4th issue - the massacre after the pro-democracy protest in 1989 - is still a very sensitive issue in China. The population was extremely resentful at the massacre of unarmed civilians, and it is still a taboo topic.

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Political analysts believe the 1989 crackdown will not be open to discussion as long as some of the individuals who were involved in the decision to attack the demonstrators are still in power.

At the close of the annual legislative session of the National People's Congress this month, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao defended the crackdown, saying the Communist party had effectively safeguarded political and social stability in order to facilitate economic reforms that have taken place in the last 15 years.

The arrests of the Tiananmen Square victims' relatives come amid efforts by China to avert international criticism of its human rights record.

Officials on Tuesday released a policy paper, declaring 2003 a landmark year in which the government enacted legal reforms to protect crime suspects and migrant workers from official abuses. The document was issued as the United States sought a U-N resolution to condemn China's human rights record at the meeting of the U-N human rights commission in Geneva. (Signed)


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