Visitors holds umbrellas in the early morning rain as they wait for the flag raising ceremony at the Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China Saturday, June 4, 2011. -- PHOTO: AP
Kerajaan Rakyat Photos : BEIJING - THOUSANDS of Chinese and foreign tourists flocked to Tiananmen Square on Saturday, the anniversary of the deadly 1989 crackdown on mass pro-democracy protests, amid a noticeable police presence.
The sensitive anniversary of the brutal June 4 army action in the heart of Beijing comes as the Chinese government wages its toughest clampdown on dissent in years, rounding up dozens of lawyers, writers and artists in recent months.
Visitors clutching cameras and umbrellas poured through security checkpoints into the giant square but many shied away from answering questions about the date or denied knowing anything about the events that took place 22 years ago.
A university student surnamed Li from Inner Mongolia in north China - where protests erupted late last month - said he was too young to remember the 1989 pro-democracy movement but knew about it.
'I've heard adults talking about it. It was a university students' protest movement,' Mr Li, 24, told AFP as he strolled around the square where demonstrators rallied for weeks for democratic reform before the army's deadly intervention.
An AFP journalist saw a number of plainclothes police wearing earpieces and carrying walkie-talkies wandering around the square as tourists happily posed for photographs in front of a portrait of Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong. -- AFP
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Elderly Chinese wait in the dawn for the flag raising ceremony at the Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China Saturday, June 4, 2011. -- PHOTO: AP
A Chinese paramilitary policeman watches a crowd in the dawn as they wait for a flag raising ceremony at the Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China Saturday, June 4, 2011. -- PHOTO: AP
A blood-covered protester holds a soldier's helmet following clashes on Tiananmen Square in Beijing in this June 4, 1989 file photo. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
An armoured personnel carrier crushes one of the tents set up on Tiananmen Square by pro-democracy protestors in Beijing in this June 4, 1989 file photo. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Protesters carry placards that read 'Exonerate the June 4' during a rally in a Hong Kong down town street Sunday, May 29, 2011. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Protesters take to the streets during a march in Hong Kong May 29, 2011, to mark the upcoming anniversary of the June 4 military crackdown on the pro-democracy movement at Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Paramilitary policemen patrol past the Tiananmen Square (back) in Beijing May 31, 2011. Mothers of civilians killed during pro-democracy protests near Tiananmen Square more than two decades ago said on Tuesday authorities had raised the issue of compensation but offered no apologies or public account of the military crackdown. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
A Chinese national flag flies above as people visit Tiananmen Square in Beijing, June 3, 2011. -- PHOTO: REUTERS