June 4th, 2012
04:19 AM ET

Tiananmen: Activists mark date that can't be mentioned

It may be 23 years since Chinese soldiers gunned down unarmed protesters near Tiananmen Square but memories of that day remain raw for pro-democracy activists within and outside the country.

More than 100,000 people are expected to gather in Hong Kong's Victoria Park Monday night for a candlelight vigil to remember the lives lost when tanks rolled into the Beijing square.

The mainland government still bans public discussion of the events of June 4, 1989, when government forces intent on ending pro-democracy demonstrations opened fire on civilians.

The official Chinese government account said 241, including soldiers, died and 7,000 were wounded.

Rights campaigners say the number of dead was more likely to be in the thousands.

In a written message to be read out at the Hong Kong vigil, Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng implored the Chinese government to "follow the will of Heaven" and advance democratic reforms.

"This Democracy Movement deserves universal approval," Chen said in the statement. "We ask that its requests be treated appropriately. We do not desire revenge but we want to completely reveal the truth. We are in favor of tolerance, but against forgetfulness. People who are forgetful have no future," he said.

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Filed under: China • World
Dozens still missing as floodwaters peak in Brisbane
An aerial photo shows the flood waters that are devastating residential suburbs in and around much of Brisbane, Australia.
January 13th, 2011
09:37 AM ET

Dozens still missing as floodwaters peak in Brisbane

Emergency services and Australian military personnel stepped up the search for dozens of people still missing in Queensland on Thursday as authorities and residents started to assess the damage caused by the state's worst flooding in decades.

Floodwaters which had carved a muddy trail of destruction through Brisbane, the state capital, have started to recede but officials warned the cleanup operation would take months.

More than 20,000 homes were inundated with water after the normally subdued Brisbane River turned into a raging torrent as weeks of rain combined with bulging dams and high tides to push it to a peak of over four meters at high tide early Thursday.

At a news conference, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh fought back tears as she described the damage inflicted by the state's "worst natural disaster in our history."

"This morning, thousands of people in southeast Queensland have awakened to the unbearable agony of their homes being devastated, their businesses, their workplaces being devastated and, for some people, they've seen both their workplaces and their homes washed away," Bligh said.

The death toll rose to 15 Thursday as around 200 people, including Australian Defence Forces, Special Emergency Services and police, combed vast tracts of land and swollen waters for 70 people still missing.

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Filed under: Australia • Weather
Tense waiting game for Brisbane residents as water levels rise
Residents use a boat to cross a street in Brisbane, Australia as water levels rise.
January 12th, 2011
11:58 AM ET

Tense waiting game for Brisbane residents as water levels rise

Anxious Brisbane residents scooped up flashlights and batteries, raided grocery store shelves for supplies and carted valuables away from the reach of rising waters Wednesday as the region prepared for what the Queensland premier described as "the worst natural disaster in our history."

A wave of water was sweeping through the city's main river system and the prediction was ominous.

The Brisbane River, which cuts through the city center, was expected to rise beyond the record set in 1974 when it broke its banks, flooding more than 6,000 homes and killing 14 people.

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Filed under: Australia • Natural Disasters