In China it is different. The right to mourn is denied because of obstruction by the authorities, instead of a lack of  information. The Chinese government demonstrates its willingness to repress any dissenting opinion on a daily basis. It has effectively silenced the social discontent of its people to a very large extent. By forbidding family and public to mourn the victims, the government believes that it can construct a collective amnesia about the human rights violations.


THREE years ago, I travelled with friends from Sichuan province to Tibet. As Hong Kong citizens, we had to report our arrival to the police in various Tibetan cities. Inside one of the police stations, a large notice board listed dozens of “sensitive
dates” in Tibet. Besides the anniversary of the Tibet Uprising Day, National Day of China, the anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre, and International Human Rights Day, even the anniversary of a mild protest by a villager some years ago could be classified as a “sensitive date”. Noticing that we were interested in the information, police became surly and ordered that
we stop looking at the board. The Chinese government is obsessed with “national stability.” On “sensitive dates”, political control is further tightened to prevent citizens from staging any collective action against the regime. To many people’s surprise, the government even perceives the traditional Ching Ming Festival as posing a potential political threat to its governance.

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Debby_ProfileAbout the author: Debby Chan is a PhD candidate in Department of Politics and Public Administration, the University of Hong Kong.