Minitrue: Delete Global Times Commentary on June 4th Letter [Updated]
The following censorship instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online. The name of the issuing body has been omitted to protect the source.
After a group of 11 Chinese students studying overseas issued a public letter calling for transparency and accountability in the events of June 4, 1989, Global Times published an editorial slamming the students as stooges of Western forces.
The students, who study in the U.S., U.K., and Australia, posted their letter online, where it has gathered dozens more signatures. Emma Graham-Harrison of the Guardian reports:
The lead signatory to the letter, Gu Yi, said the group felt they had a moral duty to share the information they had stumbled upon after leaving their home country, about the extent of the Tiananmen protests in Beijing and the bloody government crackdown on 4 June 1989.
Gu, a chemistry student at the University of Georgia, said: “I feel strongly as a Chinese citizen with full access to information outside China that I have a responsibility to tell my fellow citizens about this. We have been living in fear for a lot of years and what we are trying to do is fight this fear so we can live in freedom.”
The lengthy discussion of what happened in May and June 1989 was mostly addressed to fellow students at home in China, trapped behind what the letter called the “ever higher internet firewall”, but pointedly criticised the government.
The letter said: “Some say the Communist party of China has taken lessens from 4 June and we should not pursue it anymore, and yet the repression lingers on: the truth is still being covered up; the victims are still being humiliated.” [Source]
[Update 21:50 PST, May 26, 2015: The full text of the letter has been translated by China Change.]
The Global Times responded to the letter with a harshly-worded editorial in both Chinese and English accusing the initiators of being brainwashed by “Western forces”:
The open letter claimed that the post-1980s and post-1990s generations in the mainland have been fooled and they couldn’t get to know the “truth” of the 1989 Tiananmen incident until they moved abroad to study, where they can get unlimited access to the Internet. However, it’s well-known that Internet censorship cannot prevent people acquiring sensitive information from overseas websites. The signatories mistake their own closed mindsets as the syndrome of the whole society. If the letter is truly written by a few students overseas, we have to say that those young people have been brainwashed in foreign countries, copying the paranoid minority overseas. [Source]
The Guardian article notes that the Global Times editorial, which was published widely across state media before being censored, helped draw attention to the petition. As lead signatory Gu Yi told the paper, “The Global Times attacking our letter was the best advertisement.”
Since directives are sometimes communicated orally to journalists and editors, who then leak them online, the wording published here may not be exact. The date given may indicate when the directive was leaked, rather than when it was issued. CDT does its utmost to verify dates and wording, but also takes precautions to protect the source.