Christians stand with Tiananmen Square victims on 31st anniversary

Soldiers march in Tiananmen Square before a wreath laying ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China in Beijing, China, September 30, 2019.(Photo: Reuters/Thomas Peter)

The human rights situation in China three decades on from the Tiananmen Square massacre remains a "tragedy", the head of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has said.

Christians and human rights campaigners around the world are marking the 31st anniversary of the massacre on Thursday.  In Hong Kong, officials banned the staging of vigils to commemorate the anniversary due to coronavirus. 

In a statement, CSW Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: "CSW, together with organisations and individuals around the world, will be remembering this event and standing in solidarity with family members of victims who are still waiting for justice.

"Three decades on, the human rights situation in China continues to be a tragedy. 

"The Chinese Communist Party continues to violate the rights of citizens across the country, stamping out dissent, stifling freedom of expression, and putting a stranglehold on the right to freedom of religion or belief." 

As many as 10,000 people may have died when, on 4 June 1989, the People's Liberation Army moved into Tiananmen Square to crush protests that had been calling for democracy and freedom. 

The perpetrators have never been brought to justice and the massacre has been censored in China's history books. 

Today in Hong Kong, where citizens have spent the last year protesting an increasing Beijing crackdown, police refused to grant permission for memorials to take place to mark the anniversary. 

Until now, Hong Kong and Macau have been the only parts of China permitted to hold events to mark the massacre. 

While officials have said the ban on vigils is because of coronavirus, democracy activists are sceptical after China moved last week to impose a contentious national security law on the territory. 

The national security law, which will make it illegal to undermine Beijing, has been denounced by the international community, including religious leaders