Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur)
32 years later, China still erasing memories of Tiananmen crackdown
The ruling Communist Party’s deadly 1989 crackdown on the Tiananmen Square prodemocracy protests never ended for Fan Baolin, who served 17 years in prison. Fan sneaked out of China last year to escape surveillance that included cameras trained on his apartment and pressure on his family to deter him from more activism.
Fan, who took part in the demonstrations and later worked for the party’s vast security apparatus, was arrested in 1999 for giving activists abroad confidential documents about surveillance of Chinese pro-democracy exiles. Released in 2016, he became among those who still are watched by the party a generation later in an effort to erase public memory of the protests in the heart of Beijing.
“Once you are on the Chinese government’s blacklist, you will be tracked for life,” Fan told The Associated Press ahead of Friday’s anniversary of the June 4, 1989, military attack on protesters. He spoke in another Asian country and asked that it not be identified while its government considers his request for asylum.
Party leaders have imprisoned or driven activists into exile and largely succeeded in ensuring young people know little about June 4. Still, after more than three decades and three changes of leadership, they are relentless in trying to prevent any mention of the attack that killed hundreds and possibly thousands of people.
Relatives of those who died are watched and, ahead of the anniversary, some are detained or forced to stay temporarily away from home to prevent them from doing anything that might draw attention. Public memorials on the mainland always have been prohibited. Vigils used to be held openly in Hong Kong and Macao, Chinese territories with fewer political controls, but authorities banned events this year.
“They have only deepened repression,” said Yaqiu Wang of Human Rights Watch in a report this month.