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Not “Another Time” for June 4th

October 8, 2004

For Immediate Release

Human Rights in China (HRIC) is extremely concerned over remarks made by French President Jacques Chirac. According to news accounts on October 7, President Chirac called for a speedy end to the European Union ban on arms sales to China on the basis that the violent 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown that sparked the embargo was “another time.” President Chirac is further quoted as saying that Paris and Beijing had established "an exemplary global strategic partnership."

President Chirac’s remarks conveniently ignore China’s obligations under international human rights law. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which the Chinese government has signed and has repeatedly stated it will ratify, guarantees the right to the kind of peaceful assembly against which the Chinese government launched its brutal crackdown in June 1989. Crimes against humanity such as those committed by the Nazis in World War II, under apartheid in South Africa and during the genocide in Rwanda, are not diminished or erased by the mere passage of years or even decades. Likewise the bloody suppression of unarmed civilians in Beijing in 1989 cannot be considered a matter of “another time” after 15 short years.

President Chirac’s remarks also profoundly dishonor the many Chinese people who continue to call for accountability for Tiananmen Square. These people include Dr. Jiang Yanyong, a doctor who treated many of those wounded and killed in Beijing; the thousands of brave individuals who have signed open petitions supporting calls for a reassessment and accountability on the part of the Chinese government; and the Tiananmen Mothers, family members of the victims, whose profound loss and suffering will never be a matter of “another time.” Only when their demands are publicly addressed can China truly move forward towards a democratic and open society and claim its position as a good global citizen.

If China wishes to express its true commitment to the multilateralism touted by President Chirac, it should ratify the ICCPR and the International Labor Organization (ILO) Core Conventions 87 (freedom of association and the right to organize) and 98 (the right to organize and collective bargaining), and withdraw its reservations regarding freedom of association in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

Human Rights in China is an international monitoring and advocacy non-governmental organization based in New York and Hong Kong. Founded in March 1989 by Chinese scientists and scholars, it conducts research, education and outreach programs to promote universally recognized human rights and advance the institutional protection of these rights in the People’s Republic of China.

For comment outside of office hours, contact:
Sharon Hom (English) (917) 528-9916 or Liu Qing (Chinese) (718) 459-4832