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US Calls Tiananmen Square 'Full-On Massacre' as Anniversary Nears

FILE - A Chinese man stands alone to block a line of tanks heading east on Beijing's Cangan Boulevard in Tiananmen Square, in early June 1989.

The United States is calling the Chinese government's violent suppression of peaceful demonstrations in and around Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989, "a full-on massacre."

"The U.S. has called for, and we will continue to call for, as have others in the international community, a full public accounting for those killed, detained and missing," State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus told VOA on Thursday during a press briefing.

"We want those released — who have been jailed for striving to keep the memory of Tiananmen Square alive — and [an] end [to] the continued harassment of demonstration participants and their families," added Ortagus.

WATCH: Survivors of China's 1989 Tiananmen Crackdown Speak Out

Survivors of China's 1989 Tiananmen Crackdown Speak Out
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Thirty years ago, student-led pro-democracy protests centered on Beijing's Tiananmen Square, with corruption among the elite a key complaint among demonstrators. Protesters were also calling for political reforms and a fairer and more open society. Human rights groups believe several hundred to several thousand people were killed when tanks rolled through Tiananmen Square to squelch the demonstrations.

According to Amnesty International, over recent weeks, police in China have detained, placed under house arrest or threatened dozens of activists who are seeking to mark the June 4 anniversary, as well as relatives of those killed.

"We've seen these reports; it couldn't be more troubling," said Ortagus. "We shouldn't forget this.This is a full-on massacre."

Mainland China strictly bans commemorations of the event.