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Swiss Cities Commemorate Tiananmen

June 4, 1999

BERN, Switzerland (AP) _ China tried to prevent two Swiss cities from renaming their plazas ``Tiananmen Square″ in memory of the bloody crushing of the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations.

A Chinese Embassy official contacted the Foreign Ministry and asked it to persuade the cities, Lausanne and Fribourg, to call off the commemoration, Swiss Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Yasmine Chatila said Friday.

The ministry responded that naming squares is the responsibility of local authorities, but the cities were made aware of the political implications, Chatila said.

Lausanne went ahead anyway, renaming the city’s Place de la Louve for the day on Friday. The western city of Fribourg also renamed its central square.

But Geneva, home to the European headquarters of the United Nations and long a center for international negotiations, decided against commemorating the anniversary.

The Chinese army began attacking crowds in central Beijing late on June 3, 1989. Troops and tanks reached the square before dawn on June 4, forcing an end to seven weeks of protests that had drawn as many as 1 million people to Tiananmen Square.

The number of people killed is unknown; China’s government has never given a credible account, but many hundreds are believed to have died.

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