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The BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Beijing
"Much has changed in China in the last decade, but many of the conditions that led to the protests 11 years ago remain"
 real 28k

The BBC's Francis Markus in Taipei
"As 4 June comes round once again, some Taiwanese politicians admit that the memories are gradually fading"
 real 28k

Saturday, 3 June, 2000, 17:41 GMT 18:41 UK
Call for Tiananmen compensation
Extra police have been patrolling the square
Chinese dissidents have appealed to the government to compensate those imprisoned and the relatives of those killed in the Tiananmen Square crackdown 11 years ago.

The Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said eight dissidents had written an open letter to China's leaders saying the government was "absolutely wrong" to crush the 1989 pro-democracy protests.

On 3-4 June, 1989, government troops moved into Tiananmen Square to put a stop to seven weeks of protests - killing hundreds and possibly thousands of people.

More than 200 people are believed to remain behind bars for taking part in the protests or resisting the crackdown.

Democracy call

In their letter to President Jiang Zemin and Premier Zhu Rongji, the dissidents called for the release of political prisoners and for political reforms and democracy, said the Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy.

Seven weeks of protests preceded the crackdown
The dissidents, from the north-eastern Jilin province, also demanded compensation for victims' families and for the thousands of people imprisoned in the crackdown, and urged the government to reverse its verdict that the 1989 demonstrations were a "counter-revolutionary rebellion" that had to be quelled.

The call for a government rethink of the bloody crackdown was also echoed by veteran Chinese democracy campaigner Ren Wanding.

"The day 4 June is rehabilitated will necessarily be the day of democracy," he said. "I wish success to every commemorative activity to pay silent tribute to those who laid down their lives and to salute freedom."

Tight security

To prevent commemorations, Beijing authorities have stepped up security and extra military police have been patrolling Tiananmen Gate, which overlooks the square.

Ren Wanding said police had visited his home on Friday and "told me not to carry out any activities".

Injured victims
Hundreds were injured when the demonstration was crushed
Friends of Ding Zilin, a prominent campaigner for victims of the crackdown and whose 17-year-old son was killed, said plainclothes police were stationed outside her house and that her phone had been cut off.

Families of those who died in the crackdown were planning quiet memorials.

Su Bingxian, whose 21-year-old son was killed with three bullets to the chest, said she, her husband and their surviving two children would spend Saturday evening together in commemoration.

Zhang Xianling said she had placed flowers under a portrait at home of her 19-year-old son who was killed and would visit his grave on Sunday.

Human rights

The 4 June anniversary is also being marked in Taiwan, which sees itself as a role model for democracy in China.

The island's new President, Chen Shui-bian, has pledged to pursue an offensive of human rights diplomacy internationally, but human rights activists in Taiwan are urging him not to shy away from raising human rights issues with China.

Yang Tai-sun, deputy secretary-general of Taiwan's Association for Human Rights, said: "As a human rights organisation we feel very excited about this call, but we want to remind President Chen Shui-bian that in promoting human rights, he should not ignore the human rights situation over the Taiwan Straits.

"He may consider that to promote the human rights situation in China might jeopardise the stability of the two sides, but we think differently.

"We believe that using the topics of human rights could establish a bridge between the two peoples."

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See also:

02 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Tiananmen anniversary crackdown
02 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Taiwan urges China talks
24 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
Murder sparks Beijing protest
05 Jun 99 | Asia-Pacific
Thousands attend Tiananmen vigil
04 Jun 99 | Tiananmen Square
Tiananmen Square remembered
02 Jun 99 | Tiananmen Square
How the West was lost
02 Jun 99 | Tiananmen Square
Where are they now?
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