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FI 148/17-1
Abgeschlossen am 8. September 2017

Activists arrested for Tiananmen commemoration

AI-Index: ASA 17/6838/2017

Two activists, Ding Yajun and Shi Tingfu, have been formally charged with “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” for commemorating the 28th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown. Hu Jianguo, another activist involved in the commemoration activities, has been missing since 27 June 2017.

Ding Yajun was detained by police in Beijing on 12 June 2017 after she had posted a photo online of her posing at the Tiananmen Square in Beijing together with other petitioners on 4 June 2017 to commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown. She was criminally detained at Xicheng District Detention Centre in Beijing for one month until she was transferred to Hegang City Detention Centre in Heilongjiang, the province where she currently lives. Ding Yajun was formally arrested for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” on 12 July and will be tried on 31 July 2017. Hu Jianguo, a petitioner from Shanghai who also joined the same photo action, has been missing since 27 June.

Shi Tingfu was criminally detained, on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”, the day after he made a speech in front of the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall on 4 June 2017 while wearing a shirt with the phrase “Don’t forget June 4”. He was formally arrested on 4 July for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” and his application for bail was rejected by authorities. His lawyer has visited him at the Yuhuatai District Detention Centre in Nanjing detention centre four times since his detention.

Activists Li Xiaoling, Zhou Li, Li Xuehui, Quan Jianhu, Bu Yongzhu, Zhao Chunhong, Zhao Xin and Liang Yankui who were also criminally detained in June 2017 on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” in relation to commemoration of the Tiananmen crackdown were “released on bail” on 5 and 6 July 2017. Although there are no longer any charges pending against them, they all remain under tight surveillance according to friends.


Additional activists were also detained for commemorating the 28th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown this year. Ten activists in Zhuzhou, Hunan province, were briefly detained for between a few hours to 10 days. They used candles and their bodies to form the Chinese characters liu si – meaning “six, four” the date that is used in the Chinese language as a shorthand for the Tiananmen crackdown – and uploaded the photos online to commemorate the 28th anniversary of Tiananmen crackdown on 3 June. Chongqing activists Pan Bin and Xue Renyi lost contact with their family and friends on 1 and 2 June respectively. Xue Renyi was released after being detained for one month. There is no further information about Pan Bin’s current situation.

In April 1989, protests led by some university students in Beijing who gathered initially to mourn senior Communist Party official Hu Yaobang quickly spread across the country. The students demanded an end to corruption by officials, and called for political and economic reforms. Their demands drew wide public support. Peaceful demonstrations took place in Beijing and throughout China. The authorities failed to persuade the demonstrators to return home. As tensions escalated in Beijing, martial law was declared on 20 May 1989.

On the night of 3-4 June 1989, troops from the People’s Liberation Army entered Beijing to put an end to weeks of peaceful protests and occupation of Tiananmen Square by students to demand political reforms, killing hundreds, if not thousands, of unarmed protestors. An official report issued by the Chinese authorities at the end of June 1989 claimed that “more than 3,000 civilians were wounded and over 200, including 36 college students, died during the riot”. The report also stated that several dozen soldiers died. Yet the government has never accepted responsibility for the human rights violations during the military crackdown or held any perpetrator legally accountable. With each year that passes, justice becomes ever more elusive for family members of the hundreds if not thousands who were killed or injured in Beijing and across China.

Immediately after the military crackdown, the authorities began to hunt down those involved in the demonstrations. Many civilians were detained, tortured, or imprisoned after unfair trials. Many were charged with ‘counter-revolutionary’ crimes. ‘Counter-revolutionary’ offences were removed from the Criminal Law in 1997, yet the cases of those already jailed for these offences such as those involved in the 1989 pro-democracy protests were not reviewed.

The government’s hardline stance towards reassessing the Tiananmen crackdown can be seen in how it treats the people who have tried to commemorate the event such as the Tiananmen Mothers, an advocacy group composed mainly of parents whose children were killed in the 1989 military crackdown. These individuals face restrictions on their movement, harassment, and surveillance. Jiang Peikun, the husband of Ding Zilin and one of the founders of the Tiananmen Mothers, died in 2015 before he was able to see justice for his son Jiang Jielian, who was shot through the heart on the night of 3 June 1989. The last known person in detention for activities directly related to the 1989 military crackdown, Miao Deshun, was released from prison in October last year.

Name: Ding Yajun (f), Hu Jianguo (m), Shi Tingfu (m)

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