GENEVA (3 June 2014) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Tuesday expressed concern about the detention of numerous civil society activists, lawyers and journalists in China ahead of the 25th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.
Allegedly dozens of individuals have been detained by the authorities during the run up to the 25th anniversary of the 4 June 1989 protests, including several reportedly detained and charged with “creating a disturbance” for participating in a private discussion about the 1989 Tiananmen Square events.
“I urge the Chinese authorities to immediately release those detained for the exercise of their human right to freedom of expression,” the High Commissioner said.
Noting reports that the authorities have also been placing anniversary-related restrictions on social media, traditional media and internet usage, Pillay said that “Rather than stifle attempts to commemorate the 1989 events, the authorities should encourage and facilitate dialogue and discussion as a means of overcoming the legacy of the past.”
Despite the passage of time, Pillay stressed the importance of carrying out a truth-seeking process into the events of 4 June 1989.
“Much remains unknown about what exactly transpired between 3 June and 4 June 1989. In the absence of an independent, factual investigation, there are dramatically differing accounts. The death toll, for example, ranges from hundreds to thousands, and many families of victims are still awaiting an explanation of what happened to their loved ones,” she said.
“It is in the interests of everyone to finally establish the facts surrounding the Tiananmen Square incidents. China has made many advances over the past 25 years, particularly in the area of economic and social rights, as well as legal reforms. Learning from events of the past will not diminish the gains of the past 25 years, but will show how far China has come in ensuring that human rights are respected and protected.”
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