China Arrests 2 to Prevent Protests of 1989 Crackdown

From Times Wire Services

Chinese authorities arrested a provincial labor organizer and a leading Shanghai dissident, part of an effort to ensure that Saturday's fifth anniversary of the Tian An Men Square crackdown passed quietly.

Zhang Lin, 31, a pro-democracy organizer, was arrested in Beijing and sent to a detention center in his native Anhui province, his wife said by telephone.

Zhang, a member of a recently formed independent labor organization, has been on the run for two months.

The labor group models itself on Poland's Solidarity and claims to have 300 members nationwide.

Zhang suggested that dissidents were going to try to stage symbolic commemorative acts to mark the June 3-4 Chinese army crackdown on demonstrators five years ago, in which hundreds, perhaps thousands, were killed.

Public security directives were sent out weeks ago, and hundreds of police as well as office workers were mobilized to prevent even the smallest protest in Beijing's Tian An Men Square or the sensitive university district.

The hunger strike of Ding Zilin and Jiang Peikun, two People's University professors whose 17-year-old son was killed by Chinese soldiers, was the only known public protest on the anniversary.

Zhang's wife, Ji Xiao, said she received a police notice Thursday saying Zhang had been turned over to authorities in their hometown of Bengbu.

Zhang, a nuclear physics graduate from prestigious Qinghua University in Beijing, has been jailed five times.

Five years ago, while thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators poured into Tian An Men Square, Zhang led local demonstrations and hunger strikes in Bengbu, an industrial city of 700,000.

In Shanghai, dissident Bao Ge, one of the would-be founders of a human rights group, was arrested late Friday night, according to news agency reports.

Bao, a Christian, had planned to visit a Shanghai church today to pray for those killed in 1989.

In Hong Kong, thousands of people defied Chinese warnings Saturday not to meddle in mainland politics, staging a candlelight protest to remember the Tian An Men Square demonstrations.

Protesters, including exiled Chinese labor activist Han Dongfan, poured into a park to mark the anniversary in a demonstration that organizers admit may become a thing of the past when Hong Kong returns to China in 1997.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World