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Newspaper Ad Salutes Tiananmen Mothers

The Associated Press
Wednesday, June 6, 2007; 2:45 AM

BEIJING -- Officials at a newspaper in southwest China refused to answer questions Wednesday about an advertisement it ran saluting the mothers of those killed in a bloody military crackdown on democracy activists at Tiananmen Square in 1989.

The one-line classified ad in the Chengdu Evening News read simply: "Saluting the strong mothers of June 4th victims." It appeared on page 14 of the paper on Monday, the 18th anniversary of the violent end to a seven-week pro-democracy movement.

A woman in the advertising department of the newspaper said she was not accepting interviews and was not authorized to release any information. Employees in other departments said they were "unclear" about the ad and hung up.

Phones at the Chengdu government, police and local Communist Party office rang unanswered Wednesday.

China's government calls the student-led protest that was crushed on June 4, 1989, a counterrevolutionary riot and has not fully disclosed what happened. News footage showed soldiers and tanks rolling into Beijing to suppress the protests. Hundreds, if not thousands, died in the military crackdown.

The ad noted the date of the crackdown as "64" instead of using Chinese characters for the two numbers, as it is normally written.

Hong Kong's South China Morning Post, citing two sources with connections to the Chengdu Evening News, said a young woman who works for an advertising company that receives content for classifieds took down the information but did not know the significance of June 4.

"She called the man back two days later to check what June 4 meant and the man said it was (a date that) a mining disaster took place," one source told the Hong Kong paper.

Discussion of the crackdown on the 1989 pro-democracy movement is still taboo in China outside of the semiautonomous regions of Hong Kong and Macau. Chinese television news and major newspapers do not mention the anniversary.

© 2007 The Associated Press