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Chinese victims of Tiananmen assault demand trial for leader

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October 13, 2000 


BEIJING (AP) - People wounded or who lost family members in the Chinese military's assault on Tiananmen Square protesters appealed Thursday for international pressure to bring China's No. 2 communist leader to trial over the crackdown.

The appeal by 110 victims and family members comes on the eve of a court hearing in New York on a lawsuit accusing Li Peng of human rights abuses in the crackdown 11 years ago. China has dismissed the lawsuit as a "farce" and demanded that it be withdrawn.

Li, now head of the national legislature, was premier at the time and has been closely identified with the decision to use force to suppress the peaceful demonstrations in central Beijing. He went on television to declare the martial law that presaged the military assault and staunchly supported the crackdown.

The 110 signatories of the appeal expressed support for the U.S. lawsuit, filed by exiled Chinese dissidents in the United States, and asked for worldwide backing for their own efforts to see Li punished in China.

"The 1989 massacre that occurred in Beijing, China, was a bloody atrocity committed by the Chinese government against its own citizens and against all humanity," said the appeal, a copy of which was released by New York-based Human Rights in China. "Based on much evidence, Li Peng should be brought to justice in China and should be justly tried in accordance with international law."

The petitioners criticized China's national prosecutors office for ignoring a written request made nearly 17 months ago for an investigation on Li. They called the prosecutors' lack of response "despicable conduct which tramples on civil rights and shows scorn for the law."

They also urged the United Nations to quickly set up an international criminal court and punish citizens of U.N. member-states who have violated human rights.

The 1989 assault is one of the most divisive and sensitive issues in Chinese politics. Hundreds, if not thousands, are believed to have been killed but the actual number has not been disclosed. The communist government has never given a credible account nor allowed an independent investigation.

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