Friday, June 5, 2009


(Bangkok Post) - Re: "Kraisak holds back on criticising Burma, much to his own annoyance," (About Politics, Bangkok Post, May 30, 2009). The Asean Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC) would like to bring to your readers' attention what we view as unfair, unfavourable, accusatory and malicious points in the above article, and would like to address these inaccuracies.

The article implies that Kraisak Choonhavan (AIPMC President and Member of the Thai Parliament) spoke and gave comments to the reporter and/or the Bangkok Post and said/admitted that he was annoyed at himself for being unable to hit out hard on the Burma issue.

This is false. Mr Kraisak did no such thing in revealing/saying the above to the author of the said article. This certainly amounts to a case of false reporting and defamation. I am absolutely shocked that a renowned news agency like yours could make such an error in judgement.

As AIPMC President, Mr Kraisak has a responsibility to ensure that any new or extremely strong or controversial message he delivers on Burma, is collectively positioned and done so in discussion and sharing with his fellow parliamentarians in AIPMC from Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia, Philippines and Malaysia. The same works for AIPMC MPs from other countries as well, especially committee members. Since assuming his position as President (March 2008 onwards), Mr Kraisak has steered the AIPMC, with the support and efforts of its regional members to record some additional success in addressing the Burma question.

And since the Democrats formed the government, he has opened many previously tightly shut doors to the Parliament, its committees and ministers, to Burma's leaders and the AIPMC.

The fact that Burma's exiled leaders met and had a discussion in Parliament (in February 2009 in Bangkok) with an Asean state president and/or prime minister, in the form of Abhisit Vejjajiva, was historic and productive in itself. This was the first time that Burma's opponents to the military junta were able to communicate views and its transitional plans to an Asean chair personally. This was made possible primarily because of Mr Kraisak, and as well due to the efforts of AIPMC's country coordinator Ms Theerada Suphaphong and with the support of AIPMC MPs in Thailand. Therefore, the ''behind-the-scenes'' work the writer belittled may not seem insignificant and unproductive as was portrayed _ as opposed to the writer's belief that only loud, strong statements in public would bring about immediate freedom to Burma's people. A fusion of both approaches is necessary.

Further, in one of the paragraphs in the article that noted the timeline of when Mr Kraisak spoke out publicly on Burma in relation to Aung San Suu Kyi's arrest and bogus trial, the writer again got the facts wrong. It is sufficient to say that all reactions from MPs from the region (as quoted by the writer) came with quick discussions and knowledge of the AIPMC secretariat and Mr Kraisak.

Furthermore, simultaneous press conferences were held at 10am on May 15, 2009 (a day after Daw Suu Kyi was taken to court) in Bangkok and Jakarta where AIPMC MPs, respectively from the two countries, including Mr Kraisak, were involved and were vocal with their displeasure at the events in Burma.

The writer says that individual MPs were quicker off the mark in reacting to the arrest, but had the writer done her homework she would have noticed that many of those MPs who reacted were in fact AIPMC members. They were speaking out loud, on behalf of AIPMC and its president.

Executive Director, AIPMC


Martyr’s Day held on Thai-Burma border for Khaing Moe Lin

Dhaka (Narinjara): A function was organized to honour famous Arakanese revolutionary Khaing Moe Lin on Thursday on the Thai-Burma border. Khaing Moe Lin Day was held for the revolutionary for sacrificing his life for the freedom of the Arakanese people from the yoke of the Burmese rulers. It was the 32nd anniversary of Khaing Moe Lin Day on 4 June 2009, said an Arakan liberation Party (ALP) press release.

The ceremony was held by ALP on the Thai-Burma border to immortalize him for his great contribution for Arakan.

Over 100 people from many political organizations, including NDF, NCGUB, KNU, NLD (LA), ALD (exile), MNLD-LA and RWU based on the Thai-Burma border attended the ceremony. The function started at 9 am on 4 June 2009.

At the ceremony, two senior ALP central executive members – Khaing U Maung and Khaing San Tun Aung, presided as president and Ko Ah Naung, a famous Arakanese video director, was the master of ceremonies.

Khaing San Tun Aung read out the five principles, which were adopted by Khaing Moe Lin, before he died. Those principles were: to establish the Arakan Army for Arakan’s independence; to join hands with all oppressed ethnic revolutionary organizations for Aakan’s independence; that armed struggle was the only way to get Arakan’s independence; Arakan’s independence depended on unity of Arakanese people and that betrayal and surrender to enemies could not be forgiven by Arakanese people.

Many leaders from the attending organizations also delivered speeches during the ceremony to honour the ALP former President Khaing Moe Lin.

Major Saw Hla Ngwe, joint secretary No 1 from KNU, We KNU and ALA (Arakan Libration Army) struck an alliance under the supervision of some KNU leaders and Khaing Moe Lin to fight against the central government of Burma. They vowed to fight the military junta continuously together till freedom was achieved.

U Tun Aung Kyaw from NLD-LA said at the ceremony that NLD is continuously fighting against the military junta along with the ethnic nationalities in Burma for democracy and equal rights. All ethnic nationalities in Burma need to fight to develop the country in the future.

Many leaders vowed during the ceremony to fight the military junta together for democracy and equal rights in Burma.

The martyr Khaing Moe Lin established the Arakan liberation Party and its armed wing the Arakan Liberation Army in the KNU area in 1964 with the help of the KNU. From 1964 to 1966, many Arakanese youths joined the ALA and received arms training from KNU.

In 1966, Khaing Moe Lin started a 2000-mile long march along with 120 freedom fighters from KNU area to Arakan state across many ethnic areas like Shan and Kachin State.

In June 1967, when he reached Chin State, near the India border, with his troops, he fought many battles with the Burmese Army. At lease 10 Burma Army battalions blocked the route and waged war on the ALA. After nearly 100 battles many of his loyalists (comrades) were arrested and fell in the battles. On 4 June 1967, he shot himself with his pistol and became a hero.

ALP vice president Khaing Soe Naing Aung said during the ceremony that they had lost a great leader of the movement but “we are still marching ahead to achieve our goal. If we unite our people we will be victorious one day”.

READ MORE---> Martyr’s Day held on Thai-Burma border for Khaing Moe Lin...

Wa prepares second round response to junta

By Hseng Khio Fah

(Shanland) -The United Wa State Army (UWSA) is reported to have prepared its second round official response on the junta’s demands to transform itself into a junta-run border security force, as the deadline for compliance of them draws near, say sources from the Sino-Burma border.

Lt-Gen Ye Myint (photo)

The junta’s chief of Military Affairs Security (MAS) Lt-Gen Ye Myint has asked the UWSA to have another round of talks in Panghsang tomorrow, after the Wa rejected its proposal.

The deadline for the Wa to respond to the demands is by the end of June.

On 26-27, May, following a summit meeting among Kokang, Wa and Mongla, Panghsang held another meeting, an officer who participated in the meeting told SHAN.

The meeting was held at its main base and it was attended by officials from several ranks.

“An agreement among the topics discussed was the decision to confirm its rejection to the junta’s proposal,” he said. “As for the question whether to transform itself into a border security force would be considered after the 2010 elections.”

Topics discussed in the meeting were:

• How to answer the junta’s demand to present its full inventory of strength, weapons, units and the list of those who are going to retire
• To prepare its supplies and to hold clear-cut principles regarding the current situation
• To object to the junta’s designation of training centers for border security forces prior to any agreement between the two sides

The Burma Army has reportedly named Kengtung, the capital of Shan State East, Tangyang, a town 83-miles south of Lashio, Shan State North and Bahtu, Shan State South as training centers.

In Mon State, there are two training centers in Thanbyuzayat township, according to Independent Mon News Agency (IMNA) report on 28 May.

But there was a rumor that trainees who don’t pass medical checkup will not be allowed to attend the training and trainees over 50 will not be also considered, the source said.

Some 75% of the Wa leadership had voted to reject the junta’s demands, he added.

READ MORE---> Wa prepares second round response to junta...

State newspaper underreports pagoda deaths

(DVB)–Burma's leading state-run newspaper has allegedly under-reported the death toll from a collapsed pagoda, whilst authorities have threatened those who pass information on the incident to news agencies.

The New Light of Myanmar newspaper, which acts as the state mouthpiece, yesterday claimed that only two civilians were killed when the 50-meter high Danok pagoda collapse during renovation work last week.

But locals in Dala township have said that at least five civilians died, while a Dala resident said that the bodies of eight soldiers were recovered from the site yesterday alone.

Security around the pagoda has been tight and people have been stopped from entering the area, he said.

Moreover, the houses of those injured and killed have been watched closely so that people cannot enter and leave.

"[The military] have issued orders to their family members that if they tell someone about it and the news comes out, they will be imprisoned for at least five years,” said the man.

“That's why they dare not tell anyone, and intelligence personnel, USDA [Union Solidarity and Development Association], Swan Arr Shin [militia] and local authority members are watching them constantly."

Monks living in eight monasteries around the pagoda are neither allowed to collect alms nor be fed by local acolytes. Local authority members have been arranging meals for the monks and taking them to the monasteries.

The pagoda was re-consecrated by Senior General Than Shwe and his wife, Kyaing Kyaing, on Kason full moon day on 28 May. It collapsed two days later.

The newspaper claims that incident was due to the burden of innovation work and the drive to finish the work before monsoon begins. Locals have, however, voiced concerns that the collapse is a bad omen.

Reporting by Khin Hnin Htet

READ MORE---> State newspaper underreports pagoda deaths...

Burma donates to Sri Lanka’s displaced

(DVB)–The Burmese junta has donated US$50,000 to the Sri Lankan government in humanitarian aid for the thousands displaced by the recent conflict between the rebel Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan army.

Sri Lankan troops intensified their offensive against the Tamil Tigers, the world’s largest guerilla army, in May this year.

The Tigers then announced their defeat on 17 May with the statement, "This battle has reached its bitter end", following the death of leader Velupillai Prabhakaran.

The Sri Lankan civil war rivals Burma’s internal conflict for longevity. The Tamil Tigers were founded in 1976 and have been fighting the government for over 30 years, making it one of the world’s longest running conflicts.

A statement on the Sri Lankan government website confirmed that the money would go to the displaced in Sri Lanka’s north.

“Responding to a request for humanitarian assistance, the Government of the Union of Myanmar has decided to donate US$50,000 as a demonstration of sympathy and goodwill towards internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Northern province in Sri Lanka,” it said.

Both Sri Lanka and Burma have topped news headlines over the past month; Sri Lanka for the Tamil conflict and Burma for its trial of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, with both governments accused of illegal practice.

Reporting by Francis Wade

READ MORE---> Burma donates to Sri Lanka’s displaced...

Aung San Suu Kyi’s trial adjourned till June 12

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The special court in Rangoon’s Insein prison on Friday adjourned the trial of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi till June 12.

The court session, which began at 10 a.m. (local time) on Friday, did not conduct any hearing but fixed the next date of the trial to June 12. Meanwhile the Rangoon divisional court (higher Court) has accepted the request by defence lawyers to reinstate defence witnesses who were disqualified by the Insein prison court.

The divisional court will be holding a hearing of lawyers of both sides at 3 p.m. on Friday, and will decide whether to reinstate the witnesses.

Lawyers of Aung San Suu Kyi had produced four witnesses but the Insein court (lower district court) rejected three of the witnesses and allowed only one - Kyi Win from Irrawaddy division.

The three other witnesses, who were barred by the court, were veteran journalists Win Tin, NLD’s vice-chairman Tin Oo, who is also currently under house arrest, and lawyer Khin Moe Moe.

READ MORE---> Aung San Suu Kyi’s trial adjourned till June 12...

A Tiananmen Exile in Los Angeles

by Mark O'Neill

(Asian Sentinel) -Twenty years after the 1989 crackdown, Beijing refuses to allow hundreds of those who fled abroad to return home. The most senior of them is Xu Jiatun, the highest-ranking Communist official to defect since 1949.

Hsing Yun, Taiwan monk rescued China's top defector after June 4

Xu, 93, was head of Xinhua News Agency in Hong Kong in 1989 and ordered into retirement because he had shown sympathy for the student protestors.

Fearful that he would be arrested and sent to prison, he escaped on a plane from Hong Kong to San Francisco on May 1, 1990.

The latest issue of the Chinese-language Yazhou Zhoukan has published for the first time the details of his escape and the key role played by a Taiwan monk named Hsing Yun, who was also banned from going to China as a punishment by Beijing for helping Xu.

Xu first met Hsing Yun in April 1989, on his way home to Taiwan, after leading a major Buddhist delegation to Beijing. Xu was ordered to give red-carpet treatment to the monk, a major 'United Front' target.

Both natives of northern Jiangsu, the two men got on well. In a letter of thanks to Xu, the monk invited him to go anytime as his guest in Taiwan or his temple Xilaishi (Coming to the West Temple) in Los Angeles.

After June 4, Xu was ordered to retire from his post -- the end of a 50-year career that began in April 1938, when he joined the Communist party and became a platoon leader in the People's Liberation Army.

Xu asked to live in Hong Kong or Shenzhen, to be close to the many contacts he had built up during his six years as head of Xinhua. Suspicious of his motives, Beijing refused and told him to retire in Beijing or his native Jiangsu.

In April 1990, the net began to close around him. On the 21st, he returned to Shenzhen after a meeting in Beijing and was preparing to move house to Nanjing. His secretary told him that his successor in Xinhua, Zhou Nan, had set up a team to investigate him and had seized from his home personal letters and file. Zhou himself was in charge of the investigation. Xu needed to move quickly – but he had no visa for the United States.

On April 27, Hsing Yun, then in Australia, received a telephone call from an intermediary who said that Xu wanted refuge at Xilaishi and needed a visa. Hsing Yun made the necessary arrangements and, on May 1, Xu took a flight to San Francisco, where he was met by a relative and driven to the temple, in a suburb of Los Angeles. His wife and son remained in China.

The news was greeted with alarm in Beijing. The escape was evidence of a continuing split over the 1989 crackdown at the top of the party. Officials called Hsing Yun and asked him not to accept Xu. The monk refused, saying that it was not a political question but an example of a Buddhist tradition to help those in trouble.

On May 19, Beijing sent its ambassador in Washington to Los Angeles, where he met Xu for two hours and asked him to go home. He refused: "it was very difficult to leave. How can I go back? It is very dangerous and could result in my death."

On a visit to Mexico in mid-April, the then president Yang Shangkun called Xu from his plane and offered to make a stop in Los Angeles and take him home. Again, he refused.

"I accepted Xu for reasons of friendship and compassion," Hsing Yun told Yazhou Zhoukan . "I helped someone who made a big contribution to China. It should thank me. The CIA sent people to see Xu once a week and offered him a home. But he did not need it as he was staying in the temple."

The temple was besieged by reporters; this persuaded Xu and Hsing Yun to hold a news conference on May 20, at which Xu said that he would not betray China or Communism nor have contact with journalists or the exiled democracy movement.

He lived in a room at the back of the temple for over a year before moving into a nearby home, which Hsing Yun believes was bought for him by a Taiwan businessman.

Then he began to write books and articles, especially his memoires, for which he received a substantial advance, enabling to move into a larger home, where he lives now.

Two decades later, Beijing has not forgiven him and refused his repeated requests to spend his final years in the land of his birth. His 51 years of service, military and civilian, to the party count for nothing.

Hsing Yun also paid a price for his act of compassion; he was banned from visiting China for four years, including the 90th birthday of his mother on April 1, 1991 in Yangzhou, which he planned to celebrate with 500 disciples.

But Buddhist leaders in Beijing were finally able to persuade President Jiang Zemin in 1994, arguing that he represented millions of overseas Chinese Buddhists as well as one of the major Buddhist movements in Taiwan. He is also a supporter of reunification.

Hsing Yun was allowed back in 1994 and 1996, but only to visit relatives. Beijing got its payback in February 2002, when Hsing Yun organised the exhibition in Taiwan of a finger relic of the Buddha flown from a temple in Xian.

The exhibition was a dramatic success; five million Taiwanese saw the relic, with an additional three million coming from overseas. It sent exactly the message which Beijing wanted – Taiwan and China share the same roots and the same religion.

Hsing Yun also played a major role in organising two World Buddhist Forums, in 2007 and 2009, bringing together Buddhists from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. The one this year opened in Wuxi, Jiangsu and closed in Taipei, the first international meeting to be held in this format.

Beijing has seized on Hsing Yun as an important tool in its efforts to win the hearts and minds of Taiwan people. In 2007, Hsing Yun met Jiang Zemin, the man who had banned him, for the first time. Jiang had retired from office.

Both natives of northern Jiangsu, the two men got on well. "Often, a single meeting between people can remove all misunderstandings," the monk said.

Jiang wrote calligraphy for a large library which Hsing Yun is building in Yixing, his native place in Jiangsu province, a powerful official endorsement of the project.

"For the reunification of the two sides, Buddhism is the base. When there were no direct links, Buddhism was the link. When the two sides cannot unite, religion can unite first. We can do something," he said.

Xu is not so fortunate. Only an extraordinary turn of events will soften the hearts of his former comrades in Beijing and allow him to visit his motherland before he goes to see Marx.

READ MORE---> A Tiananmen Exile in Los Angeles...

Tiananmen dissident rebuffed

By Julian Ryall, Beijing

(The Age) -A PRINCIPAL student leader of the 1989 pro-democracy movement has slammed Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou's statement on the 20th anniversary of the brutal crackdown after a failed attempt to return to China through Macau.

Twenty years after his defiance made him the second most wanted ringleader of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations, Wuer Kaixi says he wants to return to his homeland.

He marked the anniversary of the crackdown in a holding cell in the Chinese territory after immigration officials denied him entry to surrender.

"China will not let me return and my parents are prohibited from travelling abroad," Mr Wuer said in a letter shortly before he left Taiwan, where he lives. "I have not seen them in 20 years."

The Macau authorities refused him entry, citing "the maintenance of social harmony". He refused to board several flights to Taiwan but last night was forced to admit defeat.

Upon his arrival at Taiwan's Taoyuan International Airport, he criticised Mr Ma for praising China's growing attention to human rights. "Is now the right time to say good words on China's behalf?" he asked.

Mr Ma's official statement offered only weak support for the victims of Tiananmen.

"This painful part of history has to be faced bravely and cannot be avoided," he said.

Mr Wuer remains on the list of 21 student dissidents who Beijing identified as ringleaders of the Tiananmen protests. Now 41 and living in Taipei, he has been told that China will never grant him amnesty.

He last saw his parents shortly before he was smuggled out of Beijing after the students' movement had been crushed by tanks and machine guns on June 3 and 4, but can communicate with them relatively unhindered via the internet.

"Living as an exile is tormenting and impossible for anyone who has not experienced it to understand," he said. "At first, I felt hatred for the regime, but that soon passed as hatred can bring no good. But the anger is there every day."

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on China to account for those killed in the Tiananmen Square protests.

"A China that has made enormous progress economically, and that is emerging to take its rightful place in global leadership, should examine openly the darker events of its past and provide a public accounting of those killed, detained or missing," she said.


READ MORE---> Tiananmen dissident rebuffed...

Still no faith in the death toll 20 years on

Show of force...Chinese paramilitary police in uniform and plain clothes
marched past the public after a flag-raising ceremony in Tiananmen Square yesterday.
Photo: Reuters

(SMH) - John Garnaut Herald Correspondent in Beijing

THE Chinese Communist Party left nothing to chance for the 20th anniversary of the June 4 massacre yesterday, packing Tiananmen Square with hundreds, or thousands, of security men.

At noon tourists in and around the square were outnumbered by blue-uniformed police and armed police in green uniforms.

The blue and green security forces were vastly outnumbered by young officers in plain clothes who loitered every five or 10 metres across the vast square and nearby public spaces.

Each plain-clothes officer was identifiable by a light-blue sun umbrella and a small imitation-brass badge with the red flag of China, just like the ones found at Chinese flea markets.

Those sporting larger badges on their chests had relatively large physiques and appeared to be connected to the armed police as they mingled with and supplied water to their uniformed comrades.

One red-badged young man rolled up his umbrella and held it against his armpit, as if it were a gun, before refocusing and resuming his tourist guise.

Eighteen municipal government mini vans lined up on the east side of the Monument to the People's Heroes, pot-bellied officials sprawling inside the air-conditioned vans as plain-clothes men complained of the heat out.

Some genuine tourists were annoyed by the security turnout.

"Are you serious? You want me to open my shirt? Do you think I'm carrying dynamite?" an elderly Chinese woman asked as she went through an X-ray machine at one of the security screening gates to the square.

"Why are there so many police?" a male visitor asked.

"Today there are foreigners coming," came the reply.

Some are no doubt drawn to the square by historical curiosity or respect for friends and countrymen slaughtered here 20 years ago by the People's Liberation Army. Others, particularly those from out of town, are unaware of the crackdown that changed the course of history.

Yesterday was not the time to distinguish who was who.

"Yeah, I've heard of it, but I'm really not too clear about it," said one young visitor from Inner Mongolia, who gave his family name as Dong. "The square has changed a lot," he said, as a red-badged man shuffled into listening distance.

In Washington leaders of the Tiananmen Square uprising - including Wang Dan, the student leader who was expelled from China in 1998 - were joined by US leaders in demanding that China account for its bloody crackdown.

The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. said: "A China that has made enormous progress economically and is emerging to take its rightful place in global leadership should examine openly the darker events of its past." She called on China to state for the first time how many were killed, detained or remain missing "to learn and to heal".

Last night tens of thousands were expected at the annual candlelight vigil in Hong Kong that has become a touchstone for the movement for democracy in China and the campaign to overturn Beijing's official verdict, which condemned the 1989 demonstrations.

with agencies

READ MORE---> Still no faith in the death toll 20 years on...

China blocks any commemoration of Tiananmen crackdown

Members of the public watch the flag raising ceremony
in Tiananmen Square. Photo: Reuters

(SMH) -China blanketed Tiananmen Square with police and security forces on Thursday, blocking any attempt to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the deadly crackdown on mass democracy protests.

The government again defended the decision to put down the demonstrations, which left hundreds and perhaps thousands dead, and firmly dismissed a US demand for a public accounting of the events of June 3-4, 1989.

Tens of thousands of people crowded a park late on Thursday in semi-autonomous Hong Kong for the only major commemoration of the anniversary on Chinese soil. Thousands more were expected to attend events in other cities around the world.

Hundreds of police and security forces were deployed throughout the day in Tiananmen Square in the heart of Beijing, where protesters rallied for weeks in 1989 for democratic reform before the army's deadly intervention.

Police officers searched bags and even the pockets of thousands of Chinese and foreign tourists streaming through checkpoints to visit the giant plaza in the Chinese capital, and foreign journalists were barred from entering.

"There are far more police than normal days," said a 35-year-old Chinese man, who said he frequently visits the square. "It's because of June 4. It's pretty scary having so much police. There are a lot of plainclothes officers, too."

China has for days worked to prevent any public discussion or remembrance of the events by blocking access to social networking websites like Twitter, blacking out some foreign news reports and hiding away key dissidents.

An AFP TV journalist was ordered by police to delete footage from his camera, and local tourists near the square were reluctant to discuss the crackdown -- a subject that remains taboo.

In Hong Kong, Victoria Park was illuminated by tens of thousands of candles lit in remembrance of the victims. Organisers said 150,000 attended the vigil, while police put the figure at 62,800.

"I'm deeply moved, it was proof that Hong Kong people still preserve their conscience," said Debby Chan, aged 28, a campaigner on behalf of mothers of the victims of the crackdown.

"This rally will tell the world... that we still remember the Tiananmen Square democracy movement," Xiong Yan, a student leader of the 1989 protests who was surprisingly let into Hong Kong on Saturday, told AFP.

But the government in Beijing dismissed calls for a review of the crackdown and expressed "strong dissatisfaction" with US secretary of state Hillary Clinton's demand for an account of the dead and missing.

"On the political incident that took place in the 1980s, the party and the government have already reached a conclusion," foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters.

Clinton had called on Beijing to publish victim's names, saying it would help China "learn and heal".

From his home in exile in India, Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama also called for a review of the bloodshed and urged Beijing's leadership to "pursue a policy of greater accommodation and tolerance of diverse views".

The events that unfolded in Tiananmen Square in 1989 played out on television screens around the world and temporarily made Beijing a pariah in the West.

Twenty years on, the government's authority at home is intact and its global clout is greater than ever, thanks mainly to its ranking as the world's third-biggest economy.

But activists have continued to press the government to address the crackdown.

"The Communist Party has to acknowledge the crimes that it committed," Qi Zhiyong, 53, who lost a leg in June 1989, told AFP ahead of the anniversary, before being ordered out of sight.

Dai Qing, a prominent Beijing-based critic of the government who spent time in jail after the crackdown, said she was heeding a call by dissidents to wear the traditional colour of mourning in a tribute to those killed on June 3-4.

"I'm wearing white," she told AFP.

"The use of this kind of violence on June 4 may make you think this is a powerful government, but it did not bring happiness to people."

In Poland, German chancellor Angela Merkel paid homage to the Tiananmen protesters in a speech marking the 20th anniversary of a landmark election there that hastened the demise of communism across Europe.

"It's a good day to remember that June 4, 1989 also marked a great sacrifice on Tiananmen Square. This should encourage us to support all those in the world who are seeking freedom," Merkel said.

READ MORE---> China blocks any commemoration of Tiananmen crackdown...

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