Amnesty International Calls on China to Account for Prisoners
LONDON (AP) _ Amnesty International today demanded that China say what became of more than 650 prisoners arrested since the crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing last June.
The London-based human rights group said many prisoners were reportedly beaten and tortured.
″One year after the killings in Beijing, the fate of those prisoners is still veiled in official secrecy - but they are not forgotten,″ Amnesty said in a written statement. ″We know some of their names and we want to know what has happened to them.″
Amnesty International said it had sent a list of more than 650 names of Chinese prisoners to Chinese Prime Minister Li Peng with a request for information on what has happened to them.
China has said 6,000 people were arrested following weeks of pro-democracy demonstrations, which were crushed by the military in June. Amnesty International disputed that figure, saying a more accurate number is in the tens of thousands.
Amnesty International said: ″The killings and arrests last year are just the most recent, dramatic examples of sweeping and persistent persecution in China. Our message to the government is that these human rights violations are an international concern and that international pressure will not go away.
″Workers arrested since the June crackdown in Beijing are reported to have been particularly harshly treated by the martial law authorities, and many are reported to have been subjected to beatings and torture in detention during the weeks which followed the crackdown,″ it said.
Amnesty International has estimated that at least 1,000 were killed and thousands injured when troops moved in on peaceful demonstrators in Tiananmen Square on June 3-4.
The Chinese government has said nearly 300 people died during the action, including armed forces members.
Amnesty International released brief biographies of 16 prisoners, including religious leaders.
The biographies also provided background on Tibetan monks and nuns who were arrested for taking part in Tibetan independence demonstrations in September.
″Sixteen nuns were among those arrested for participating in peaceful marches with some of them sent to labor camps without charge or trial and others imprisoned on counterrevolutionary charges,″ Amnesty International said.
Another biography focuses on Long Xianping, a 35-year-old English teacher and mother of two boys, who was described to the human rights organization as a quiet, apolitical person. She was arrested June 19, 1989, after making a political speech at a factory, Amnesty International said.
Amnesty International said Ms. Long was deeply disturbed when she heard of the killings in Beijing. The political speech was her first. She was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment in mid-December on charges of carrying out ″counterrevolutionary incitement,″ Amnesty International said.