Tiananmen Square crackdown

Activists under security watch

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 04 June, 2012, 12:00am


Mainland authorities have imposed what they are calling 'wartime' security measures in some sensitive parts of Beijing, as surveillance is stepped up on dissident families of victims of the bloody 1989 Tiananmen crackdown, to prevent public commemoration of China's most sensitive anniversary.

Security was tight in Beijing yesterday, with a heavy police presence at Tiananmen Square as well as along Changan Avenue and near the homes of activists on the eve of the 23rd anniversary of the crushing of pro-democracy protests.

Like they have done for the past 22 years, rights activists, petitioners and religious groups have reported being harassed, threatened or even taken away by police and security officers in the run-up to the anniversary, despite mounting public appeals for redress of the military crackdown.

One of the most outspoken voices for victims of the crackdown, Ding Zilin , founder of the Tiananmen Mothers organisation, was either under house arrest or had been taken away, said Zhang Xianling, a member of the support group of more than 120 relatives of those killed and injured in the deadly crackdown on June 4, 1989.

'Ding has been informed that she and her husband would be under 24-hour surveillance on June 3 and 4,' said Zhang, citing her phone conversation with Ding a few days ago.

Phone calls to Ding's home went unanswered yesterday. Zhang, 75, the mother of a student who was among those killed, said she had also been put under close police watch.

A government notice confirmed that Beijing had markedly raised the security level ahead of today's anniversary, particularly at campuses, main thoroughfares and shopping districts, listing the main targets as dissidents and other possible 'troublemakers' deemed as threats to stability.

'From May 31 to June 4, a wartime security mechanism and control measures should be in effect, and security volunteers, wearing red armbands and organised by individual neighbourhoods, should be on duty and patrolling,' said the document posted on the government website of Tongzhou district in the capital.

It urged grass-roots cadres to collect information regarding dissidents' outdoor activities and their 'ideological conditions' for immediate submission to higher authorities.