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World News

Beijing paper in hot water for 1989 crackdown photo -report

BEIJING (Reuters) - A popular Chinese newspaper could face punishment after printing a picture of casualties in the 1989 military crackdown on anti-government protests, a taboo subject.

The Beijing News, a Chinese-language tabloid widely read in the capital, published an interview with a Hong Kong-born American photographer who in the 1980s worked in China.

But the otherwise unthreatening story and selection of his photos on Wednesday included a small picture of injured men being carried on the back of a three-wheeled cycle -- apparently shot after the Communist Party crushed the 1989 pro-democracy movement centred on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

The picture in the inside pages of the popular daily is titled “The Wounded.”

The tumult of 1989 is a political taboo in China, especially as Communist Party leaders seek to focus on hopes for the Beijing Olympic Games next month.

After initially tolerating the student-led demonstrations in the spring of 1989, the Communist Party sent troops to crush the protests on the night of June 3-4, killing hundreds.

China has since labelled the movement “counter-revolutionary” and, 19 years on, the subject remains taboo and the leadership has rejected calls to overturn its verdict.

The grainy photograph was a rare, and possibly accidental, breach of that silence, and a Hong Kong newspaper said the newspaper faces serious repercussions.

The Ming Pao newspaper reported on Friday that officials ordered the Beijing newspaper yanked from stalls and the report cut from the paper’s website. Propaganda and press officials were also investigating the report, it said.

The link to the report on the Beijing News’ website (www.thebeijingnews.com) could not be opened on Friday.

“It is expected that several senior staff, the page editor and the reporter will be implicated in this matter,” the Ming Pao report said.

Staff at the Beijing News declined to answer questions about the matter.

Last year, officials punished staff at a newspaper in southwest China that carried a brief advertisement paying tribute to mothers of citizens killed in the 1989 massacre.

The employee who took the ad believed it was for victims of a mine accident, a Hong Kong paper reported at the time.

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