Hackers believed to be from China launched an online onslaught at a Washington, D.C., teleconference event Friday in remembrance of the Tiananmen Square massacre.
Saturday marks the 27-year anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre of June 4, 1989 in Beijing. The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) deployed military forces against an unarmed, student-led protest, and killed hundreds of peaceful protesters standing up against corruption.
The death toll is still disputed, and different estimates put it anywhere between 180 to several thousand. Nearly three decades later, the CCP continues to fanatically cover up the events and censor any facts from coming out.
The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC) hosted an international teleconference from D.C. Friday to honor the victims and discuss the contested history of the events. The teleconference included people in Berlin, Paris, Melbourne and Hong Kong. A group of uninvited trolls joined the server and froze the account before the event was scheduled to start at 10 a.m. The VOC website was disabled shortly after, which forced the organizers to live stream the event from Facebook instead.
When the conference started after a minor delay, hackers blocked the Internet in the building on E Street. The organizers had to use cellular data to continue the live stream, and the event went on without any further interruptions. (RELATED: Here’s An insideLook At China’s Frightening New Move To Control Social Behavior)
VOC Executive Director Marion Smith told The Daily Caller News Foundation that it was the fourth time hackers had interrupted a China-related event. The organization is now working with the FBI to figure out where the hacks come from to prevent it from happening in the future.
“We made due and had a good number of survivors of the Tiananmen Square massacre speak here,” Smith told TheDCNF. “On the whole it was a success, but it was very much changed by very, very vigorous high tech attempts to stop us from having the conference.”
The fact that the hackers managed to disrupt an event in the U.S. shows just how advanced the Chinese censoring techniques are. Within China, the government has been widely successful in their attempts to erase any evidence of what took took place 27 years ago.
“They were able here today to postpone and alter significantly an event held by an organization, a foundation, here in Washington, D.C., next door to the FBI building,” Smith said. “In China they’re much more successful in that … If you search for June 4 or Tiananmen Square massacre, your server shuts down.”
The hackers may have made it more difficult, but they were unable to silence survivors of the massacre from sharing their accounts when the conference finally started.
Rui Zhaohuai spent three years in prison for his participation in the protests. Zhaohuai said he had little concept of what freedom and democracy meant at the time, but that young Chinese people desperately needed a sense of hope.
“In 1989 I was just a 19-year-old freshman in college. At the time, to be honest, I did not quite understand the meaning of democracy, freedom, justice, all these words,” Zhaohuai said. “So why did I participate? These terms, although we did not quite understand the deeper meaning of these terms, we wanted to carry a message to give us some hope. Upon listening to these terms, we have some hope. That encouraged us to participate in the movement. Not only the students, but the people all over China at that time.”
Xiao Guozhen is a human rights lawyer who left China and moved to the U.S. She said any mention of the massacre is still “very, very dangerous” as the communist regime will come after you.
“Nobody will forget the massacre. Nobody will forget 1989 and the day June 4,” she said. “Today it is still going on, the democracy cause. I will not forget them, and they will not be forgotten. Their voice needs to be heard.”
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