Sunday, June 8, 2008

New probe into Victor Jara murder/China Urged to Release Tiananmen Square Prisoners

New probe into Victor Jara murder

BBC News

June 4, 2008

A judge in Chile has re-opened an investigation into

the death of folk singer Victor Jara.

Judge Juan Eduardo Fuentes said he would examine 40 new

pieces of evidence provided by the singer's family.

Mr Jara was killed in 1973 at the Stadium of Chile in

Santiago, in the early days of former military ruler

Gen Augusto Pinochet's government.

His widow, Joan Jara, said his murder had become an

international symbol in the fight against human rights abuses.

She added that the re-opening of the case "opens the

way to continue investigating and searching for the truth".

Tortured and killed

Mr Jara was among thousands of people who were arrested

and taken to the Chile Stadium in Santiago soon after

Gen Pinochet took power, following a military coup on

11 September, 1973.

Once there, soldiers broke and burned his hands so that

he was unable to play his guitar, witnesses say. He was

then shot and killed.

The 38-year-old singer was one of the founding fathers

of Chile 's New Song movement and a supporter of

President Salvador Allende, who was overthrown in the coup.

Judge Fuentes ruled last month that a retired Chilean

army colonel, Mario Manriquez, had killed Mr Jara in

1973, but he closed the case after one conviction.

Mr Jara's relatives - who believe the army is shielding

other people who may have been responsible - have

welcomed the judge's decision to hear more evidence.

Col Manriquez, who was the officer in charge of the

stadium where Mr Jara was held, is under house arrest

and will be sentenced at a later date.

An official report issued after the restoration of

democracy in Chile in 1990 found that 3,197 people died

or disappeared during military rule.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/06/04 10:28:30 GMT


t r u t h o u t | 06.04

China Urged to Release Tiananmen Square Prisoners

Wednesday 04 June 2008

by: Jonathan Watts, The Guardian UK

Beijing - Civil rights activists called on the Chinese government today to release more than 100 prisoners from the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests as a sign of its commitment to improve human rights ahead of this summer's Olympic Games.

On the 19th anniversary of the bloody crackdown by People's Liberation Army troops, participants and supporters said the recent openness of the Sichuan earthquake relief operation could pave the way for a wider national reconciliation if the events of 1989 are reviewed and those punished are pardoned.

Human Rights Watch said 130 people are still in prison as a result of their roles in the pro-democracy demonstrations, which started in Beijing and spread to several other cities. By freeing them, the group said China could show "the global Olympic audience it is serious about human rights".

Hundreds, possibly thousands, of pro-democracy demonstrators and their supporters were killed by army tanks and troops in and around Tiananmen Square on June 3 and 4, 1989.

Civic groups and foreign governments - including the US and UK - have called for a full investigation and a pardon for those imprisoned in the crackdown that followed.

The government in Beijing insists the actions were needed to restore order, but it has blocked public debate on the issue.

One of the most prominent activists from 1989, Han Dongfang, said in a statement that the relative transparency shown by the Chinese authorities in their handling of the Sichuan earthquake should be repeated for the political wrongdoings of the past.

"The shift in leadership style shown by the government in response to the earthquake disaster suggests that the time is now right for such a step," said Han in an essay titled "A Time for Unity, a Time for Reconciliation" that praised the role of the army in the relief effort.

In Tiananmen Square today, the security presence was beefed up, as is usual every year on June 4. Police checked the bags of many visitors entering the area for liquids, banners and petitions.

But most tourists seemed oblivious to the significance of the date, which is a taboo subject in the domestic media.

"It is my first visit to Beijing . The square is far more impressive than I imagined," said a middle-aged man who had just arrived from Liaoning province with his wife. "I never heard of any trouble here in 1989. We live in a country village. We don't know about that kind of thing."

Far from remembering past misdeeds, the government's focus is on looking forward to future glories. Tiananmen Square is in the midst of a city-wide facelift ahead of the Olympics. Dozens of migrant women in blue tunics were scrubbing the tens of thousands of paving stones with detergent to remove chewing gum and other blemishes.

Many of the approaching streets have been decorated with potted flowers, and construction sites are screened off with giant banners reading "Join hands with the Olympics, make a date with Beijing in 2008". The countdown clock noted there are only 64 days to go until the start of the Games.

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