China Marks Tiananmen Square Anniversary

The Associated Press
Sunday, June 4, 2006; 9:05 AM

BEIJING -- Chinese police tore up a protester's poster and detained at least two people on Beijing's Tiananmen Square on Sunday as the country marked 17 years since local troops crushed a pro-democracy demonstration in the public space.

An elderly woman tried to pull out a poster with apparently political material written on it, but police ripped it up and then took her away in a van.

A farmer tried to stage a protest apparently unrelated to the 1989 crackdown, but he also was taken away in a van.

After dawn, a group of tourists tried to open a banner while posing for a photo, catching the attention of police, who quickly forced them to put the nonpolitical material away. They were not detained.

Discussion of the crackdown is still taboo in China outside of the semiautonomous regions of Hong Kong and Macau. Chinese television news and major newspapers did not mention the anniversary.

In Hong Kong, several hundred people holding candles gathered at Victoria Park, creating a sea of lights covering four soccer fields.

"I hope the Chinese government will recognize this dark history," Eric Lau, 14, said.

Retiree Yan San, 74, said he has attended the annual commemoration in Hong Kong since its debut in 1990.

"I have persisted in coming here for 17 years because I love freedom and democracy," he said.

China's authoritarian government has stood by the suppression of what it has called "counterrevolutionary" riots, saying it preserved social stability and paved the way for economic growth.

The events of June 4, 1989, shocked Hong Kongers at a time when the territory was still a British colony but preparing to return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. The bloody suppression fueled fears that Beijing would extend its authoritarian rule to Hong Kong.

Chinese police monitored Tiananmen Square closely Sunday.

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© 2006 The Associated Press