Pelosi Remarks at Press Event in Remembrance of 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre
Contact: Drew Hammill, 202-226-7616
Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, joined House Speaker John Boehner, Congressman Chris Smith, and Chinese dissidents and activists for a press event in remembrance of the Tiananmen Square Massacre of 1989. In her remarks, Leader Pelosi paid tribue to the heroes of Tiananmen – Chinese students, workers, and citizens who peacefully assembled to demand the end of corruption and the acceleration of democratic reform. Below are the Leader’s remarks:
“Mr. Speaker, thank you for bringing us together. Congressman Smith, thank you for your leadership, as well as Frank Wolf, our dear friend. We were on the floor together yesterday. I’m honored to be here with both of you, and with my colleagues from the House also: Mr. Hoyer, Mr. Walz, and Mr. McGovern – Mr. McGovern being the Chair of the Lantos Human Rights Commission. And we’re honored that Mrs. Lantos is with us. Thank you, Annette, for the leadership of your family. To Xiong Yan and Chai Ling: thank you for your courage, for your sacrifice, for staying true to the memory and message of Tiananmen Square.
“I know I speak for many Members of Congress who can’t be here today, when I say: what an honor it is to be standing in front of these heroes.
“They have such courage. They spent their time in prison: Wei Jingsheng, and others. So, this is about those who risked their lives, gave their lives, or were imprisoned, and others imprisoned, after the events of Tiananmen Square as well.
“How could it be, my colleagues, 25 years? A generation has gone by – we were promised so much that would happen, if we would just wait. But Chai Ling’s message is a message of hope: that time will bring progress. Twenty-five years ago – as we all know – a people rose up in Tiananmen Square to demand their rights, to demand dignity and respect, to demand a voice. They wanted an end to corruption and a beginning of real economic and political reform, and as Chai talks about: spiritual reform.
“They wanted reform of expression and assembly. They wanted a dialogue and progress – and they were demonstrating peacefully when tanks came rolling down the street, toward the Square. Yesterday, on the floor of the House, we talked about the man before the tank – all of the courage that it took to stand before a rolling column of tanks, which then turned. The sad thing about that is that, in China today, most young people haven’t the faintest idea that that happened, or if they are shown a picture of it, what that means. And, that is the repression that the Chinese have on that expression of courage. Today, that image remains a challenge to the conscience of the world.
“Twenty-five years later, the spirit of Tiananmen Square endures, yet the challenge remains. The Chinese government censors any mention, again, of June 4th. Liu Xiaobo remains the world’s only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, a symbol of all who languish in prison for exercising their rights. In mentioning him, I acknowledge the others who courageously are imprisoned. Chinese officials abuse and intimidate the families of activists with impunity, and the human rights situation in China and Tibet continues to deteriorate.
“Though many Chinese don’t know the truth about Tiananmen, they do know the truth about their government: that corruption is rampant; that the rule of law is not applied in a fair manner; that air and water pollution threatens their health and environment; that injustice is perpetuated without any redress of grievances.
“In China and around the world, the heroes of Tiananmen and their allies continue the struggle with unmatched courage. We must support them. We must remember that the spirit of Tiananmen is alive and well, and China’s leaders know it and they fear it every day. Indeed, why else would they remain so intent on censorship and so obsessed with snuffing out any mention or detail of June 4th?
“The United States Congress must always stand firm. This has been a place – in a bipartisan way – where we have come together, to honor our commitment to human rights. We know that we would lose all moral authority to speak out about human rights any place else in the world if we did not speak out against human rights violations in China. Despite its size, despite being an economic giant, we still speak out together.
“We want to acknowledge that there has been a dark chapter in the past. We’re hoping for a brighter chapter in the future.
“To the people of China and to freedom-loving men and women everywhere, our message must stay the same: your cause is our cause. We can never forget – we will never forget Tiananmen Square. May the memory of June 4th forever inspire us and strengthen our resolve on behalf of democracy – not just in China – but of freedom around the world. With that, I yield to our distinguished Speaker of the House.”
# # #