China jails man for 18 months for remembering Tiananmen Square

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Protesters in Tiananmen Square. - PHOTO: Zhenglianjie

Amnesty International is calling on Chinese authorities to halt the persecution of people seeking to remember the victims of the 1989 crackdown in Tiananmen Square.

The international human rights group issued the statement in response to the sentencing of a man to 18 months in jail for a remembrance last year and in anticipation of demonstrations to come as the anniversary of the June 4 massacre approaches.

A court in Changshu, in eastern China, found Gu Yimin guilty of inciting state subversion after he tried to post images of the crackdown online and applied to stage a protest on the 24th anniversary last year, according to Amnesty.

“Gu Yimin should be released immediately and unconditionally. Nearly 25 years on from the Tiananmen Square crackdown the authorities continue to stop at nothing to bury the truth of 1989,” said Anu Kultalahti, China researcher at Amnesty International.

Hundreds if not thousands, of protestors were killed or injured during the military crackdown against student protestors in and around Tiananmen Square in 1989. 

“As the 25th anniversary approaches, this could well mark the start of the annual round-up of activists attempting to remember the tragic events of 1989. Rather than ratchet up such persecution the authorities should acknowledge what really happened and deliver justice for the victims,” said Kultalahti.

The 1989 crackdown remains an official taboo in China. Attempts to commemorate, discuss and demand justice for what happened are forcefully curbed, with no public discussion allowed.