China blocks Google sites amid security drive
By Tom Hancock, AFP June 4, 2014, 12:00 am TWN
BEIJING--Several Google websites have been blocked in China, a monitoring service said Tuesday, as authorities step up arrests and censorship before the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.
A stepped-up police presence is visible on Beijing's streets, while dozens have been detained in the run-up to Wednesday's anniversary, when China moves to block any public commemoration.
"I've been ordered to stay close to my house ... so I can't live or work normally," environmental activist Wu Lihong told AFP, adding that the restrictions were likely to last until June 10.
Police in Beijing on Sunday detained an Australian artist who produced artwork about the June 4, 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, associates said.
The protests were crushed when soldiers killed hundreds — by some estimates more than 1,000 — unarmed civilians.
Amnesty International has denounced the detention as part of a "merciless campaign of repression," adding that "scores" of activists have been detained in recent weeks.
Seventeen activists have been detained on criminal charges, while more than 30 others are believed held under house arrest or other forms of detention, the group said.
Those criminally detained include celebrated human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, detained last month along with four others on a charge of "picking quarrels and provoking trouble" after attending a private seminar about the crackdown.
Those detained are unlikely to be released until next week, effectively preventing them from marking the anniversary, Si Weijiang, a friend of Pu, told AFP.
Police on Tuesday were stationed at major overpasses in the city, though their numbers were also boosted as part of an anti-terror campaign following deadly attacks in recent months blamed on separatists from the far-western Xinjiang region.
Beijing authorities have recruited 850,000 citizen volunteers to act as informants in a year-long anti-terrorism campaign, state media reported last week.
China prevents access to a host of websites including YouTube and Twitter using a system known as the "Great Firewall," and restrictions are tightened before dates the government considers sensitive.
The ruling Communist Party blocks public discussion of the June 4 crackdown.
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