US condemns China's crackdown on activists ahead of Tiananmen anniversary

The US State Department answered questions about China's human rights offenses on Thursday

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U.S. State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus. (video screencap)

U.S. State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus. (video screencap)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — China’s crackdown on activists seeking to commemorate victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre “couldn’t be more troubling,” the U.S. State Department said on Thursday (May 30).

June 4 marks 30 years since the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) opened fire on democracy protestors in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square killing thousands of people, according to some reports. Dozens of Chinese activists have in recent weeks been threatened or detained for attempting to mark the occasion.

During a May 30 press briefing, U.S. State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus described the 1989 incident as “a full-on massacre,” and expressed deep sorrow to families grieving for those lost during the event.

Ortagus said reports that show Beijing is clamping down on activists seeking to commemorate the incident “couldn’t be more troubling.” The U.S. will continue to call for a full public account of those killed, detained and missing, she said.

She added that the U.S. wants the release of those jailed for striving to keep the memory of victims alive, and the harassment of demonstrators and their families to end. The Chinese Communist Party’s abuse is systematic, she said, and “one of the more sad, tragic things that we’re seeing going on in the world today.”

Amnesty International also called for the persecution of those honoring Tiananmen Square victims to end. “The Chinese government must accept that no amount of suppression will ever erase the horror of the wholesale slaughter that took place in and around Tiananmen Square,” the organization said.

Each year prior to June 4, the Chinese government’s censorship organ makes extreme efforts to erase all traces of the Tiananmen Square incident from the internet. Mention of the event in Chinese media is strictly forbidden.

Thanks to advances in artificial intelligence, the censorship process is now largely automated, Reuters found after speaking to Chinese government employees. Any images of the event or social media posts alluding to it are automatically blocked.