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(New York) — Fifteen years after the Tiananmen Square massacre, the Chinese authorities are harassing activists to discourage them from publicly discussing the events of June 4, 1989, Human Rights Watch said today.

In the days leading up to the anniversary, Chinese security forces have warned, harassed, and intrusively monitored dissidents, writers, academics, and long-time pro-democracy activists. Over the past week, police have ordered some of its critics to leave Beijing. At least one critic was beaten when he tried to leave his home.

“The Chinese government is trying to wipe out the memory of Tiananmen Square, but the horror of what happened still resonates inside and outside China,” said Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch’s executive director. “We don’t even know exactly who died in the massacre. The Chinese authorities need to punish those responsible, compensate the victims, and allow those who fled the country to return home.”

The Chinese government has failed to establish accountability for those who ordered the use of deadly force that killed and injured hundreds of peaceful protesters, Human Rights Watch said.

On June 4, 1989, the Chinese government turned its troops and tanks against its own citizens to stop a coalition of students, workers, academics, writers and journalists from peacefully agitating for a pluralistic political system and the freedom to speak their minds. Hundreds of civilians lost their lives in the streets near Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. In recent years, Chinese citizens have called for a reassessment of what the government termed a “counterrevolutionary rebellion,” but the Chinese leadership has refused.

To mark the events at Tiananmen Square in 1989, Human Rights Watch has launched a special web page, “Tiananmen, Fifteen Years On.” The new page updates the stories of those labeled “the most wanted” by the Chinese government, and revisits Human Rights Watch’s in-depth reporting on some of the prominent pro-democracy activists during June 4, 1989, and afterwards.

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