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Canada: Time for China to “break the silence” on Tiananmen

June 5, 2019

TORONTO (AP) — Canada’s foreign minister said on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre that it’s time for Beijing to “break the silence.”

Chrystia Freeland said in a statement Tuesday that China should openly account for the Chinese citizens who were killed, detained or went missing.

China imposed an information lockdown Tuesday on the 30th anniversary of its bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters at Tiananmen Square.

“Canada asks Chinese authorities to break the silence on these events by openly accounting for the Chinese citizens who were killed, detained or went missing,” Freeland said. “Canadians join others around the world in commemorating the 30th anniversary of the violent crackdown against unarmed and peaceful citizens in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.”

Freeland said that under the Chinese constitution, Chinese citizens should enjoy freedom of speech, assembly, association and belief. She said 30 years later, the struggle for basic freedoms continues for human rights defenders in China, including lawyers and journalists.

The Chinese Embassy blasted Ottawa in a statement, saying the comments were “gross accusations on China’s human rights and religious situation.”

“It flagrantly interferes in China’s internal affairs, tramples the basic norms governing international relations. The Chinese side firmly opposes it and has made stern representations to the Canadian side. Any attempt to interfere in China’s internal affairs or destabilize our country is doomed to fail,” the embassy said.

Relations between Ottawa and Beijing are at the lowest point since the Tiananmen Square massacre after Canada arrested a top executive of Chinese tech giant Huawei on a U.S. extradition request last December.

China detained Canadian ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor on Dec. 10 in an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release the daughter of Huawei’s founder. China has also sentenced two other Canadians to death and suspended imports of Canadian canola.

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