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Tiananmen protesters fight on the Web

4 June 1999

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It was five years ago today... It's just over fifteen years since pro-democracy Chinese students occupied Beijing's Tiananmen Square - and paid the price. On the tenth anniversary, the struggle continued:

Tiananmen protesters fight on the Web

By Tim Richardson
Published Friday 4th June 1999 10:45 GMT

The Chinese authorities may have been able to close off Tiananmen Square for "street repairs" on the tenth anniversary of the bloody massacre in Beijing, but they have been unable to stifle support for the pro-democracy movement in cyberspace.

Wang Dan, a student leader of the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, said his Global Petition Campaign has received over 100,000 signatures. Some 20,000 of these from 120 countries have been gathered by the campaign's website. The June4 petition has also received 1000 signatures from mainland China, providing confirmation that news of the human rights campaign has broken through the Chinese information blockade. For in its bid to sweep the memory of the event under the carpet, the Chinese authorities have closed down chat room and Net connections. They have even barred CNN from hotels and apartment buildings.

According to a Reuters report, this has been done to allow "maintenance" work to be carried out. "From Andorra to Zimbabwe, we are encouraged by the overwhelming support for the campaign," said Wang in New York where he is attending commemorative events for the 10th anniversary of Tiananmen. "By October 1, we hope to collect enough signatures to send a strong message to the Chinese Government - that it must take responsibility for the Beijing massacre." Many people who have tried to gather signatures within China were harassed, detained and arrested, said Wang.


Well, www.june4.org is no more. As for China, it continues its efforts to protect its citizens from the worst excesses of the Internet, with recent initiatives such as banning online games, and shutting cybercafes. Indeed, even the use of the term "4 June" in newpapers or on the Internet is prohibited.

Not that the protests don't continue, as China Support Network proves. It comes as no surprise, however, that this particular site is based in the US. Its chances of survival in China would be zero. ®

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