Thousands remember Tiananmen Square anniversary in Hong Kong
June 5, 1999
BEIJING (CNN) -- The 10th anniversary of the military crackdown on pro-democracy students passed with relative calm in Beijing, but in Hong Kong, tens of thousands of people turned out for a candlelight vigil in Victoria Park to commemorate the event.
Soldiers raised the Chinese flag over Tiananmen Square in Beijing, as China tried to ignore the anniversary of the student democracy movement there a decade ago.
In the Great Hall of the People, China's leaders kept to their schedule, greeting a North Korean delegation. Premier Zhu Rongji claimed he had forgotten the anniversary completely.
At the square in Beijing -- most of which is closed for renovations -- a crowd of several hundred provincial tourists watched as soldiers marched beneath the giant portrait of Mao Tse-tung, founder of the People's Republic of China, for the flag-raising ceremony.
On June 4, 1989, China turned tanks and troops against demonstrators who had set up camp at the square, urging Chinese leaders to allow a more open, democratic society.
Friday's calm in Beijing was the result of a great deal of effort on the part of Chinese security agencies. China has rounded up more than 100 dissidents, including Democracy Party organizer Gao Hong Ming, who planned to publicly mark the anniversary. The government condemned them as traitors.
The military clampdown ended seven weeks of protests that had drawn as many as 1 million people to Tiananmen Square and inspired demonstrations in other cities.
The assault is believed to have killed hundreds, perhaps thousands. The government has never given a credible account, and the number of people killed remains unknown.
Chinese rights group denied U.N. association
Also on the 10th anniversary of the Tiananmen events, a U.N. committee bowed to Beijing and rejected U.N. consultative status for a human rights group on Chinese affairs.
The New York-based Human Rights in China group sought to join hundreds of voluntary organizations with expertise in various fields that are allowed to take part in the work of the main U.N. body concerned with social and economic matters.
But at the strong urging of China, the U.N. committee on nongovernmental organizations rejected Friday an application by Human Rights in China for consultative status with the U.N. Economic and Social Council.
The vote in the 19-member committee was 13 to 3 to reject the application. The United States, France and Ireland voted for approval. Chile and Romania abstained. Senegal was absent.
Voting for rejection were: Algeria, Bolivia, China, Colombia, Cuba, Ethiopia, India, Lebanon, Pakistan, Russia, Sudan, Tunisia and Turkey.
U.S. supports rights group application
The United States strongly supported the application by Human Rights in China, which was founded in March 1989, with headquarters in New York and a branch office in Hong Kong.
Its board of more than 40 members includes non-Chinese as well as Chinese, including several dissidents who have served jail terms in China.
The application was discussed for hours, with China's deputy U.N. representative, Shen Guofang, claiming that all the organization's members lived outside China, carried out "groundless attacks" on the Beijing government and included board members who were "convicted criminals", some of them still wanted by the Chinese government.
He also said Human Rights in China had done nothing to further the Chinese people's civil, political, economic or social rights. It had failed to "spare a penny" to help the victims of last year's disastrous floods in China and had said nothing about the "atrocities" suffered by the victims of last month's NATO bombing of China's embassy in Belgrade.
The organization was also closely associated with Tibetan "splittist," or separatists, Shen said, claiming that it aimed to "overthrow the legitimate government" of a U.N. member.
Representatives of Human Rights in China, including its executive director, Xiao Qiang, and its chairman, Liu Qing, said the group did not advocate either violence or subversion. Its members had all visited or lived in China.
Liu said he "could be one of the criminals" cited by China since he had been jailed twice, spending nearly 11 years in prison for organizing a journal containing statements critical of the government.
The debate was thrown into disarray and suspended for a while after the chairman, Wahid Ben Amor of Tunisia, said a cameraman had been filming the proceedings without permission. He later said he was ordering an inquiry into the incident.
The cameraman was identified as an employee of the Chinese Television Network, with headquarters in Hong Kong and offices in New York, Washington and Los Angeles.
After the vote, U.S. representative Seth Winnick said it was "a sad date, the 10th anniversary of the events in Tiananmen Square." The committee, he said, chose to overlook the U.N. Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by denying accreditation to a nongovernmental organization that embodied and advanced those objectives.
Beijing bureau chief Rebecca MacKinnon and Reuters contributed to this report.
Tiananmen anniversary passes with little public notice
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.