China Slams US Call to Free Tiananmen Prisoners

Record turnout at Hong Kong vigil
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 5, 2012 4:48 AM CDT
Tens of thousands of people attend a candlelight vigil at Hong Kong's Victoria Park, Monday June 4, 2012. Organizers say there were 180,000 people at this year's rally.   (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

(Newser) – The US marked the anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown yesterday by urging China to free political prisoners still jailed 23 years later, prompting China to express its "strong dissatisfaction" with US interference. The US is "making baseless accusations against the Chinese government and arbitrarily interfering with China's internal affairs," complained a foreign ministry spokesman. Human rights groups estimate several thousand people were killed in the 1989 crackdown, and some dozen protesters are still behind bars.

Human rights campaigners say hundreds of dissidents were rounded up in Beijing ahead of the anniversary. In Hong Kong, which has a high degree of autonomy from the rest of China, organizers of the annual vigil in memory of those killed in the crackdown say this year saw the highest-ever turnout, including large numbers of students and tourists from across the border, CNN reports. Chen Xitong, who was major of Beijing in 1989, now says the killings were a "tragedy that could have been avoided." (Read more Tiananmen Square stories.)

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