Thursday, June 04, 2009

20 Years After the Tiananmen Square Massacre -- Lessons Unlearned? Let Crimes Against Humanity Stand, & More Crimes Against Humanity will Soon Follow

Virtual Museum of China '89

The spiritual head of the Tibetan community, the Dalai Lama paid his respects to those who died during the Tiananmen Square movement in 1989.
"On occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square students' democracy movement, I honour those who died expressing the popular demand for the government to be more accountable to its people," the Nobel peace laureate said in a statement. ... "It is my hope that the Chinese leaders have the courage and far-sightedness to embrace more truly egalitarian principles and pursue a policy of greater accommodation and tolerance of diverse views." ... Over the last 20 years Chinese authorities has refused to apologise for the deaths of protesters on the night of June 3-4, 1989.
Times of India, 6-4-09

20 Years After the Tiananmen Square Massacre -- Lessons Unlearned? Let Crimes Against Humanity Stand, & More Crimes Against Humanity will Soon Follow

By Richard Power

Twenty years after the massacre of pro-democracy activists on Tiananmen Square ...

Lessons unlearned?

If you let crimes against humanity stand, without pursuing accountability for those responsible, sooner than later, more crimes against humanity will follow.

(And that is true whether those responsible ruled in Beijing or Beltwayistan. You cannot simply "look forward," if you do, you become complicit.)

Here is a glimpse at some of the poisoned fruit that has ripened since the Tiananmen Square massacre.

The Burmese thugocracy, which is supported by the Chinese government, continues its show trial of Aung San Suu Kyi:

The people of Burma have been through terrible times and enjoy none of the benefits of their neighbours (a Thai lives almost 10 years longer on average). The past couple of years – with the suppression of the "Saffron" uprising and Cyclone Nargis, which killed more than 130,000 – have been especially cruel. They struggle to cope with mounting economic pressures and an economy skewed towards those with the right connections.
Yet despite these day-to-day pressures, they remain transfixed by what is happening in the court in Insein, and one senses the importance of the role that Aung San Suu Kyi, as a symbol of hope, continues to play in their lives. Many seem noticeably angrier about the trial than they were when the 2007 protests were crushed.
Guardian, 6-3-09

The thugocracy in Karthoum, supported by the Chinese government, continues its crimes against humanity in Darfur:

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) today released an important new report on the grim and persistent realities of sexual violence directed against Darfuri women in Darfur and Eastern Chad. In partnership with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI), PHR has published “Nowhere to Turn: Failure to Protect, Support, and Assure Justice for Darfuri Women” ... There are twin emphases in the report: (a) the ongoing vulnerability of Darfuri women in refugee camps in Eastern Chad, with threats of sexual violence coming primarily from host communities that have grown increasingly hostile to those who fled violence in Darfur, and (b) the terrible prominence of sexual violence against women amidst genocidal destruction in Darfur itself. Indeed, the report provides further, compelling evidence of the use of rape as a deliberate weapon of genocidal warfare. ... The report should serve as a sobering reminder to those who have come to regard Darfur and Eastern Chad as “low-intensity conflict,” with putative signs of de-escalating violence, rural rebuilding, and “optimism” on the part of Darfuris. The growing effort to re-write the narrative of the Darfur genocide---minimizing overall mortality, speciously questioning the most conspicuous realities of genocide, denying significant violence and human destruction after 2004, refusing to see how desperate the overall humanitarian situation remains---hardly accommodates the individual narratives that we find in PHR’s path-breaking study. Eric Reeves, Sudan Research, 5-31-09

As always, I encourage you to follow events in Darfur on Mia Farrow's site, it is the real-time journal of a humanitarian at work; the content is compelling, insightful and fiercely independent.

For a Words of Power Archive of posts on the Crisis in Darfur, click here.

For a directory of Words of Power Human Rights Updates, click here.

Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.

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