June 4, 2014 marks the 25th Anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. On this date in 1989, the Chinese government crushed pro-democracy protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, opening fire on peaceful student protesters that had camped on the grounds. Since then, the Chinese government has silenced any talk about the tragedy and has halted attempts by the media, individuals, or groups to bring attention to the events that took place 25 years ago. Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post created a collage of video clips and photos in an attempt to tell the story of the event, but reader comments on that story appear to have been deleted or redacted, consistent with the government’s attempts to quash citizen’s efforts to shed light on human rights abuses. The government has gone so far as to detain activists for holding private vigils for the fallen.
The events at Tiananmen 25 years ago are echoed in countries around the world today, such as in the Bahraini government’s response to peaceful protests at the Pearl Roundabout in Manama in February 2011, when thousands of peaceful protestors gathered to demand political and economic reforms and an end to systematic human rights abuses. The Bahraini government responded to those requests by violently assaulting the protesters, killing dozens and wounding hundreds. Since then, the Government of Bahrain has waged a campaign of oppression against its own people, taking yet another page from the Chinese book by jailing and torturing peaceful protesters and muzzling online dissenters with hefty jail terms.
It is high time that these and other oppressive governments are held accountable for their actions. Immediate reforms are necessary to move forward in this process and allow all their people to enjoy the true freedom that they deserve. Key among these reforms must be the immediate cessation of politicized jailings, an end to laws criminalizing dissent, and the release of all political prisoners. Only by allowing its citizens to acknowledge and critique past tragedies can a government adequately address and move forward with the implementation of critical human rights reforms.
On the 25th Anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, and in light of the consistent, continued oppression by the Bahraini government, ADHRB calls for these events to be things of the past. These tragic events cannot be forgotten or erased from public memory; the lives lost at the hands of the government should be memorialized in the form of dialogue and progress surrounding the advancement of political and human rights.
Morgan Fiander is a legal intern at ADHRB.