- News and Notes
Remembering Tiananmen Square
To mark the tenth anniversary of China’s June 4th massacre, Wang Dan, exiled former student leader of the Tiananmen Square protests, has launched a Global Petition Campaign. The petition calls on the Chinese government to reevaluate the official verdict on the 1989 prodemocracy protests, to bring to justice all those responsible for the human rights violations committed, to review the cases of all political prisoners and release all prisoners of conscience, and to respect international human rights covenants. The Global Petition Campaign has been endorsed by a number of prominent individuals and human rights and labor organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights in China, International PEN, and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. The Campaign’s website can be accessed at www.june4.org.
Within China, a group of survivors and family members of those killed in 1989 at Tiananmen Square submitted a legal petition on May 17 to China’s Supreme People’s Procuratorate requesting a criminal investigation into the massacre. Evidence submitted as part of the petition included 27 signed testimonies detailing the circumstances in which victims were killed or injured, along with a list of 155 people who died and 65 who were wounded. The petition argues that the actions of the martial law troops constituted crimes under Chinese law, including premeditated murder and intentional injury, and it calls on the Procuratorate to investigate the responsibility not only of the troops who committed the crimes but also of those who gave them orders, including former premier Li Peng. A special report on “Crimes Against Humanity: Victim Testimonies of the Beijing Massacre, 1989–1999” is available at the Human Rights in China website at www.hrichina.org. [End Page 187]
NED Honors Nigerian Organization
On May 25 in Washington, D.C., the National Endowment for Democracy presented its 1999 Democracy Award to Nigeria’s Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), a coalition of more than 60 Nigerian civic organizations. The TMG monitored the preelection period, organized voter education campaigns, and trained and mobilized almost 11,000 independent observers for election day.
The Award was accepted by Clement Nwankwo, chairman of the TMG’s coordinating committee. Also present from the TMG were Abdul Oroh and Aaron Gana. Speakers included Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering, Sen. Richard Lugar, Rep. Benjamin Gilman, and Rep. Edward Royce. The award was presented by Rep. Donald Payne, who stated: “If Nigeria is to meet the awesome challenge of building a democratic system that is lawful, just, transparent, and genuinely inclusive of all ethnic and religious groups, it will depend in no small measure on the continued work of the TMG and the thousands of devoted Nigerian democrats who have already sacrificed so much for the cause of freedom.”
Open Singapore Centre Established
On May 20, two Singaporean opposition leaders, Joshua B. Jeyaretnam (head of the Workers’ Party) and Chee Soon Juan (head of the Singapore Democratic Party), announced the founding of the Open Singapore Centre. They characterized the Centre as Singapore’s first nonpartisan, nongovernmental organization dedicated to promoting transparency and accountability and to strengthening political and civil rights. The new organization’s mission statement outlined the following goals: “To promote transparency and accountability in government and nongovernment institutions including the business sector; to secure for Singaporeans the right to information; to encourage greater participation and civic awareness among the people on national issues; to establish greater communication with and among Singaporeans living, studying or working overseas; and to interact with like-minded organizations within and outside of Singapore to work together for greater openness.” For further information, contact the Centre at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Global Electoral Organization Meets
On April 11–14, regional associations of election officers from around the globe met in Ottawa for the first Global Electoral Organization (GEO) Network Conference, aimed at fostering the growing movement toward cooperation in international electoral assistance, the setting of universal standards in election administration, and the sharing of experiences among [End Page 188] election practitioners. Conference participants included representatives of associations of election officials, international organizations, bilateral development assistance agencies, and others interested in strengthening electoral processes. The conference, hosted by Elections Canada, was...