Press Release: Stop Uyghur Genocide Commemorates 33 Years Since the Tiananmen Square Massacre

Press Release – For Immediate Release

Today, Stop Uyghur Genocide (SUG) commemorates the 33rd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, which followed the Tiananmen Student Protest movement, which saw thousands of pro-democracy protestors across China assemble to demand political and economic reform. The Chinese authorities responded to the peaceful demonstrations with violent force. Tanks and military personnel opened-fire on the crowds, killing thousands of students, teachers and civilians. Whilst the Chinese government has never disclosed the official death toll, research has found that up to 10,000 people may have been killed during the crackdown. In the days, weeks and months following Tiananmen Square, the CCP generated a climate of fear; arresting, charging and in some cases executing innocent civilians for ‘conspiracy’ against the government.

The authorities’ violent crackdown in Tiananmen Square triggered a broader erosion of civil liberties across Tibet, the Uyghur Region and mainland China. The Chinese government’s policy of unchecked repression signalled a new era for those living under the CCP’s rule: one in which arbitrary arrests and non-judicial killings were appropriate responses to peaceful dissent. This authoritarian turn fostered the conditions to transform the Uyghur region into a high-tech open-air prison.

In China, the events of 1989 have been erased from public memory: images are routinely removed from the internet and acts of public mourning are forbidden. This act of national ‘forgettance’ is now expanding across national borders. 

In Hong Kong, candle-light vigils have now been banned, public monuments to the tragedy have been removed and this year, for the first time in 33 years, ​​Hong Kong churches have cancelled their Tiananmen tributes, one of the last remaining displays of remembrance.

For Uyghur, Hong Kong and Tibetan communities who have been forced to continue the struggle for democracy and human rights from exile, the events of 1989 provide a source of strength and unity, and a warning against the perils of unchecked power.

To commemorate the lives and freedoms lost on this day in 1989, Stop Uyghur Genocide is attending two protests today. The first is co-organised by the Ukrainian and Hong Kong communities and will take place between 4-5:30pm opposite Downing Street. Entitled ‘Unite for Democracy’, the event will demonstrate an international stand against authoritarianism. The second is a reflective commemoration organised by Amnesty, Friends of Tiananmen Mothers and Hong Kong community groups, taking place outside the Chinese Embassy between 7-10pm. We hope you can join us.

Rahima Mahmut, Executive Director of Stop Uyghur Genocide, said: 

“Today marks thirty-three years since the Tiananmen Square Massacre, when calls for democracy and change from student protestors were met with some of the most violent repression the 20th Century had seen. The events of June 4th violated international standards on human rights and shocked the world, and yet the international community chose, as it still does now, not to take action. This choice was misguided and dangerous, and the Chinese government’s brutality has grown in scale and extremity ever since. My people are pleading with the democratic world to stop repeating the same mistake – condemnation is not enough, if the Uyghurs are to survive as a people, we need action. Today we will commemorate the lives of those that died for democracy at Tiananmen Square, their sacrifice must never be forgotten. The world must respect their memory by learning the lessons of history and standing firmly with those of us that continue our struggle against the Chinese state.”

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