Remember the martyrs of Tiananmen

AS ONE of the world's largest public squares Beijing's Tiananmen is normally a magnet for camera-toting tourists and any visible signs of the massacre that played out there 21 years ago have long been erased.

In China the "June 4 turmoil", as it is euphemistically known, is treated as a closed case and remains strictly a taboo subject.

The fallen heroes of China's pro-democracy movement remain largely anonymous and there are no plans to build a memorial in their honour.

Nevertheless, it is encouraging to note that China's government is beginning to pay greater attention to the importance of human rights than ever before.

This May Beijing took the encouraging step of publishing new regulations stipulating that evidence obtained under torture or duress is illegal and inadmissible in court.

This constitutes major progress in protecting the legal rights of defendants.

Mainland China's progress with regard to human rights has been closely followed by the government of Taiwan.

In a statement to mark the 21st anniversary of Tiananmen, Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou urged China to face her past.

"We hope that at this juncture mainland authorities will be able to manifest a completely new way of thinking about human rights and, with complete sincerity and self-confidence, gradually resolve problems left over from a major human rights incident.

"We also hope that they will be able to treat dissidents in a more magnanimous spirit", Ma said.

As excitement around the World Cup reaches fever pitch, fans should spare a thought for the Tiananmen martyrs.

Greg Lishman, Bryanston