Security tight in Beijing on Tiananmen Square anniversary

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Police stand by their vehicles near Tiananmen Square in Beijing on June 4, 2014, the 25th anniversary of the June 4, 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protests. Photo: AFP
China has boosted security in Beijing ahead of the 25th anniversary of the suppression of pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square.
Dozens of riot police and police patrol cars could be seen parked around the square, as well as at intersections several blocks away on the avenue of Eternal Peace.
Foreign journalists were ushered away from the square and passers-by were searched and had their papers checked.
In recent weeks, the authorities have detained dozens of activists to ensure their silence on the anniversary.
Rights group Amnesty International said 48 people had been detained, placed under house arrest, questioned by police or had gone missing ahead of the anniversary.
In an apparent sign of government nervousness, connections to the Internet appeared to have been disrupted leading up to the anniversary, with Google\’s mail and other services mostly inaccessible.
In Hong Kong, however, thousands are expected to take part in a Tiananmen remembrance rally.
Activist groups in Taiwan are also marking the anniversary by erecting a huge image of Tiananmen Square during the crackdown. 
The United States on Tuesday demanded Beijing free the government critics and allow for public discussion about the Tiananmen Square incident.
 
A spokesman for China\’s Foreign Ministry defended the detentions, saying China was only punishing "law breakers," and not "dissidents."
 
At least hundreds, and possibly thousands, died on June 3-4, 1989, when Chinese troops moved in to break up the demonstrations, which had spread nationwide.
 
The official death toll is not known and the government has gone to impressive lengths to erase the nation\’s collective memory of the incident.
The 1989 demonstrations included Chinese citizens from all walks of life, including some members of the Communist Party. Many were expressing frustration at a lack of freedom of speech, rising inequality, and rampant official corruption.
Beijing\’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday defended the 1989 crackdown, saying China has "long ago" reached a conclusion about the incident. It instead focused on China\’s rapid economic development since then.
The protests were the biggest rally against Communist rule since the People\’s Republic was founded in 1949.
Hundreds of thousands called for democratic reforms in a peaceful demonstration largely focused on a gathering in Tiananmen Square.
Source: VOA and agencies

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