Man held over Tiananmen massacre labels

A Chinese man has been detained for sharing pictures of liquor bottles with labels depicting the day soldiers massacred pro-democracy protestors in Tiananmen Square, Beijing.

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The bottles of what appears to be baijiu carry images reminiscent of the iconic show of resistance by one pro-democracy protestor in Tiananmen Square on 4 June 1989 (Photo: Twitter)

The man, reported to be an itinerant worker in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, was detained by police on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power”, according to a number of human rights websites, including Canyu.org.

The macabre images include one on a beer bottle label showing a man sitting in front of a column of tanks, echoing the iconic image of a protestor resisting the armed crackdown during which several hundred civilians were killed 4 June, 1989.

The New York Times reported the detained man’s wife as saying that she did not know whether her husband was the author of the pictures or had merely shared them.

“My impression is that I may have seen those pictures,” the woman said.

“But these kinds of things just get passed around. I wasn’t paying attention, so I don’t know whether he had anything to do with them. It’s just some pictures, so I wasn’t paying attention.”

Police moved to detain the man after the images were published on WeChat, a popular Chinese social media platform. The images also showed what appeared to be bottles of baijiu spirit with labels similar to those for the beer bottle.

The labels played on the similarity in Mandarin between the word for liquor and the word for nine, as in 1989 – ‘jiu’, The New York Times reported.

The script on the beer bottle translates as ‘Remember, Eight Liquor Six Four’ in an apparent reference to the date of June 4, 1989.

The detained man, a former soldier from Sichuan, is reported to have worked as a security guard and in other menial jobs, and liked to write verse.

The Communist Party in China is well known for taking a hard line against dissidence. Human rights groups report of dissidents frequently being placed under house arrest or being otherwise detained by authorities for suspected involvement in incidents which draw attention to what is regarded as one of the most this shameful events in China’s recent history.

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