US urges China to release Tiananmen Square protesters

[JURIST] The US State Department (DOS) [official website] urged the Chinese government on Friday to release protesters [press release] arrested for the peaceful protests in Tiananmen Square [BBC backgrounder] in June 1989. Friday marked the twenty-second anniversary of the suppression of the protests in Tiananmen Square. The DOS also asked the Chinese government to provide an account of those missing, detained or killed during the suppression. The US encouraged the Chinese government to protect universal human rights of peaceful dissenters and to release all that are detained, forcibly disappeared, or placed under house arrest in recent months. According to the right's group Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) [advocacy website], the Chinese government has implemented [press release] the "most severe repression of dissent and activism since the post-Tiananmen crackdown," and has arrested and detained at least 48 individuals in the months leading up to the anniversary. A spokesperson for the Chinese government rejected the US statement saying that the US was interfering [AP report] with China's internal affairs, and that Chinese citizens enjoy extensive rights and freedoms.

China's human rights record has been widely criticized. In March, UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention [official website] called on the Chinese government [JURIST report] to free detained human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng [advocacy website; JURIST news archive], whom they claim is being held in violation of international law. Last year detained Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] was announced [JURIST report] as the winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. The Chinese government denounced the decision, calling it "contrary to the purpose of the Nobel Prize." In February 2010, a Chinese appeals court upheld [JURIST report] Liu's 11-year prison sentence despite calls for his release from US and EU officials. Liu was tried [JURIST report] in December 2009 on subversion charges in a trial that lasted only two hours and was closed to foreign diplomats. Liu was formally arrested in June 2009 and charged [JURIST reports] in December, but he has been in detention since December 2008, shortly before the petition's release. In June 2009, rights groups marked the twentieth anniversary of the 1989 uprising in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, calling for the government to investigate the incident [JURIST report] and implement changes called for by Charter 08.

 

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