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Authorities block international news sites, harass foreign journalists on eve of 20th anniversary of Tiananmen massacre

(RSF/IFEX) - Amid a wave of censorship measures in China aimed at suppressing information about the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, on 3 June 2009, Reporters Without Borders arranged for three publicity trucks displaying Stuart Franklin's famous photograph of the "Tank Man" to drive around Paris and pause outside the Chinese embassy. The photo, showing a man stopping the advance of a column of tanks in Beijing, symbolises resistance to oppression. Like all photos and reports about the June 1989 pro-democracy movement, it is banned in China.

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"Human rights organisations have a duty to pay tribute to the victims of the ruthless crackdown of 4 June 1989 and to those in China who continue to honour their memory, despite censorship and harassment," Reporters Without Borders said. "Tens of thousands of Parisians have seen this emblematic photo today even if it is banned in Beijing. We again urge the Beijing authorities to allow the press to talk to the pro-democracy movements." Franklin, who works for the Magnum agency, watched as the blown-up versions of his photo were driven around the city.

Meanwhile, on 3 June 2009, security forces in Beijing prevented journalists from visiting Tiananmen Square. Thousands of policemen and soldiers were deployed around the vast square, where Mao Zedong's mausoleum is located. According to the Foreign Correspondents Club of China (FCCC), at least four TV crews have been detained by police for trying to film in Tiananmen Square. Police surrounded another TV crew near Beijing University. Several Chinese fixers working for foreign news media have been questioned by the Public Security Bureau. For details of these incidents, go to: incident-reports/

Reporters Without Borders has received a list of websites, social networking sites, chat forums and blog platforms that are currently blocked by the authorities. They include such Chinese sites as , http://, and When Internet users try to access them, they get a message saying they are down for maintenance. Click here to view the complete list:

Access to international websites such as those of the BBC, TV5 Monde and CNN, which have been showing photos and videos of the June 1989 events, has also suddenly been blocked in China, while pages containing articles on the subject have been removed from imported newspapers. At the same time, around ten dissidents have been prevented from leaving their homes or contacting foreign journalists. Bao Tong, a former Communist Party official who was purged for sympathising with the pro-democracy student movement, was escorted by police to the south of the country.

Reporters Without Borders also took part in a vigil in Paris on 3 June in honour of the victims of the massacre. It was held at the Human Rights Esplanade, across the River Seine from the Eiffel Tower.

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