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Exiled Tiananmen returns home

Published Jun 4, 2009

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Taipei - One of the main student leaders from the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests was deported to Taiwan on Thursday after failing to enter Macau and turn himself in to the Chinese government.

"I am deeply saddened that I have not been able to see my family for 20 years and that my intention to return by turning myself in was barred," Wu'er Kaixi told reporters after arriving at an airport outside Taipei.

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"The Chinese government is avoiding something that happened 20 years ago... I am wanted in China but I cannot even turn myself in. Is China really a confident, great nation?" he said.

Wu'er Kaixi called his attempt to enter Macau a "gentle challenge" to Beijing, which was "only the beginning" of his attempts to return home.

Wu'er Kaixi also voiced his disappointment at Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou, who, in a statement marking the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown, said China is willing to address human rights issues.

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"Has it come to the time to sing the praise of China? I am suffering the excruciating pain of not seeing my parents for 20 years, I demand Ma to seek justice for me."

Wu'er Kaixi flew to Macau from Taipei on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the bloody military crackdown and was held overnight by Macau immigration officials after being barred from entering the Chinese territory.

Macau, like its neighbour Hong Kong, is part of China but operates a separate legal and immigration policy, part of a deal agreed when it was handed back by former colonial power Portugal.

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A member of the Uighur ethnic minority, Wu'er Kaixi was number two on the government's "most-wanted" list of student protesters following the military crackdown, which left hundreds, possibly thousands, dead.

He was able to flee China after the demonstrations were ended and now lives in Taiwan, working as a businessman.

Wu'er Kaixi became a celebrity overnight after he interrupted then-Premier Li Peng during a meeting between student leaders and politicians aired live on state television on May 18, 1989.

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He was seen as a hardline student leader and took part in a hunger strike in Tiananmen Square, resulting in his hospitalisation. - AFP

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