China: End the silence on Tiananmen Square Massacre and on-going human rights violations

The Chinese Communist Party’s denial of accountability for egregious human rights abuses on June 4, 1989 marks a widespread contempt for its citizens 

For immediate release

June 4, 2018 11:25 am EST

Contact: Uyghur Human Rights Project +1 (202) 478 1920

The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) calls on Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to end its silence over the mass killing of peaceful protestors on June 4, 1989. The Chinese government’s refusal to address the massacre of students, workers, and residents of Beijing assembled on Tiananmen Square reflects a commitment to power that places the interests of party elites over those of ordinary citizens. China’s denial to acknowledge human rights violations extends to the continuing deterioration of conditions in East Turkestan (aka Xinjiang). Despite several credible reports detailing the existence of ‘reeducation camps’ in East Turkestan, state officials deny the mass and arbitrary incarceration of Uyghurs. 

“The time for China to come clean over the June 4, 1989 killings of demonstrators expressing their right to free speech is overdue. The CCP’s denial of responsibility and the dissemination of propaganda since the Tiananmen Square Massacre are an attempt to conceal rights abuses and rewrite history.  The dead of Beijing deserve justice and party officials must be held to account for their murderous actions,” said UHRP Director Omer Kanat.

Mr. Kanat added: “China remains blind to the lessons of history. Today, hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs are incarcerated in ‘reeducation camps,’ where torture and death in custody are an on-going fear. The need to question CCP officials on their record is urgent in order to guarantee international standards of rights inside China. The community of nations should use China’s upcoming Universal Periodic Review as an opportunity to speak for those in China who have no voice.”

Since the spring of 2017, China has detained possibly over a million Uyghurs in ‘reeducation camps.’ Reports have revealed the regional extent of the facilities and overcrowded conditions. In a May 18, 2018 Associated Press report, former inmates of the ‘camps’ described a pattern of physical and psychological torture. Radio Free Asia (RFA) has also documented a number of deaths in custody, including Muhammad Salih HajimAbdulnehed Mehsum, and Yaqupjan Naman. A May 30, 2018 RFA article detailed how two Uyghur civil servants, Omerjan Hesen and Elijan Ahmet, were sentenced to 11 years imprisonment for not only failing to send Uyghurs to “reeducation camps,” but also “for having ‘watched a documentary in English’ about the June 4, 1989 military crackdown on the student-led pro-democracy movement centered on Tiananmen Square in Beijing.”

Among the student protestors at Tiananmen in the spring of 1989 was a young Uyghur student, Örkesh Dölet (widely known by his Chinese name, Wu’er Kaixi). Örkesh, who had been studying at Beijing Normal University, confronted Premier Li Peng on national television about the need for the central government to listen to the people and their demands for political and economic change. Following the government’s violent crackdown on demonstrators, Örkesh’s name was the second on a list of 21 most-wanted student leaders of the Tiananmen protests.

The preamble to the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people.”