Students hold silent protest to remember dead

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 June, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 June, 1994, 12:00am

A FEW hundred students at Beijing University observed the fifth anniversary of the June 4 massacre last night by holding a silent vigil.

At midnight, all lights were on at the post-graduate dormitories of the university, and many students were seen standing out on the balconies.

Earlier, authorities at the university, the centre of the 1989 democracy movement, called a meeting of the students to ferret out those responsible for passing out commemorative leaflets.

Security at all of Beijing's major universities was very tight with no non-university personnel being allowed on campus without first undergoing a rigorous interrogation and registration process.

Last night, police roadblocks cordoned off the entire university area in Haidian district, stopping foreigners' cars - distinguished by their black licence plates - from entering.

Every intersection in the college district was guarded by about half a dozen police. At least two truckloads of the para-military People's Armed Police were seen patrolling around Beijing University.

Throughout yesterday, the police apparatus threw a tight security net over Beijing, covering Tiananmen Square with uniformed and plain-clothes police, cutting off dissidents' telephones, and banning gatherings.

Tiananmen Square was swamped with plain-clothes and uniformed police officers yesterday morning.

Hundreds of plain-clothes officers - some disguised as tourists, others not even bothering to conceal their identity - patrolled the square all day.

As soon as foreigners entered the square, they were immediately followed and videotaped by police armed with a wide variety of cameras, walkie-talkies and mobile phones.

There were about a dozen uniformed officers stationed throughout the square with many more back-up officers sitting in police vehicles to the south, east and west of the square.

Three journalists from the American television network CBS, who shot some film on the square yesterday morning, were detained by police and questioned for two hours. All their videotape was confiscated.

Many people had been told by their work units to stay away from the square during the anniversary.

A screening of the film Farewell to My Concubine at the Sino-Japanese Youth Exchange Centre last night was cancelled.

Callers to the cinema were told it was because the theatre had no electricity. However, it appeared the cinema was following orders from the police, who feared large gatherings would lead to trouble.

Dissident Professor Ding Zilin and her husband Jiang Peikun went on a three-day fast on Thursday night to protest against the heavy police surveillance under which they have lived since May 20, and to commemorate those who died five years ago.

The couple lost their 17-year-old son, Jiang Jielian.

The switchboard at People's University, where the couple live and where they used to teach, cut off their telephone line on Thursday at noon. But one caller managed to persuade the operator to put a call through yesterday morning.

''My son was shot between 11.05 and 11.15 on June 3. I don't know when he actually stopped breathing, but I'll continue to fast until June 4 because I want to commemorate others who died with him,'' Professor Ding, who has a heart problem, said.

''I'm not eating anything, just drinking water. My heart began to act up but now I'm calm,'' she said, breaking into tears.