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China says no to France over release of Tiananmen prisoners

Reuters/David Gray

China has dismissed a demand by France for the release of political prisoners jailed after the 1989 crackdown on Tiananmen democracy protests, saying it was strongly opposed to such "interference". 

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On Monday, France joined the United States in calling on China to release prisoners jailed 23 years ago after troops stormed central Beijing, ending six weeks of pro-democracy demonstrations.

China still considers the Tiananmen demonstrations a "counter-revolutionary rebellion" and has refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing or consider compensation for the hundreds, and perhaps thousands, killed.

"We express our strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to the French statement," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said on Tuesday. "This is interference into China's internal affairs."

On Monday, French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said Paris "wants to see Chinese prisoners of conscience freed".

"We recall our unwavering commitment to the defence of human rights, including the fundamental right to freedom of expression, in China and around the world," he said.
"The European Union consistently brings the situation of Tiananmen prisoners to the attention of the Chinese authorities.

Rights campaigners and petitioners said on Monday that Chinese authorities had rounded up hundreds of activists in Beijing as they marked the 23rd anniversary of the 3-4 June, 1989 crackdown.

The United States had also called on China to release prisoners linked to the crackdown, and Liu gave Washington a similar rebuke on Monday.

 

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