The spokesperson for the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General’s Antony Guterres has refused to condemn China’s 1989 Tiananmen Massacre at press briefings on the 30th anniversary of the bloody crackdown.

Stéphane Dujarric said in response to questions from three journalists on Monday and Tuesday that the UN had no comment on the matter: “I would remind you in fact as I’ve just said of our constant call on security forces and governments not to use excessive force when facing civilian demonstrators,” he told a reporter.

Stéphane Dujarric
Stéphane Dujarric. Photo: Screenshot.

The massacre occurred on June 4 1989, ending months of student-led demonstrations in China. It is estimated that hundreds, perhaps thousands, died as the People’s Liberation Army suppressed protesters in Beijing.

At a later press briefing, the United Nations General Assembly spokesperson Monica Grayley reiterated Dujarric’s comments when asked to condemn the massacre: “We don’t have anything further from what has been said already,” she said.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet had condemned the massacre of over 30 Sudanese civilians on Monday after the military cracked down on pro-democracy protests in Khartoum; she called for an independent investigation into the bloodshed.

When asked whether the response was a double standard, Dujarric said the Secretary-General dealt with contemporary issues: “I think the secretary [was] commenting on things that were happening today, right now, under his watch. And again on the broader issue on human rights in China, I would refer you to things I’ve said previously,” he said.

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The UN has recently come under fire for failing to condemn and act upon human rights abuses in China. Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth in April accused Guterres of embracing quiet diplomacy since he became chief in January 2017.

China is the UN’s second largest financial contributor and wields veto power as a Security Council member.

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Jennifer Creery is a Hong Kong-born British journalist, interested in minority rights and urban planning. She holds a BA in English at King's College London and has studied Mandarin at National Taiwan University.