Press Release by Congresswoman Pelosi

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi


On Remembering Tiananmen Square

May 18, 1999


Today, we are introducing a very simple resolution. It does not involve money, the structure of government, or the allocation of political power. It simply reminds us to remember.

While the legislation merely calls upon us to remember, memory becomes subversive when forgetting enjoys official sanction. For the victims of history, memory often serves as a lonely sanctuary for truth and justice.

Almost 10 years ago, on June 4, 1989, the Chinese government ordered its armed forces to crush the multitudes that had been gathering for weeks in Tiananmen Square in peaceful demonstrations for political and human rights. Hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent students and workers were killed in a night of horror. Thousands more were injured. Some 20,000 alleged sympathizers were arrested throughout the country and then sentenced to prison or sent for "re-education" in labor camps. Hundreds still remain in prison a decade later.

Only yesterday we learned that four activists have been arrested for planning to distribute leaflets seeking redress of the Tiananmen Square Massacre at the anti-NATO protests in Beijing last week. The current location of the dissidents is unknown, of course. In another incident, a member of the outlawed China Democracy Party was prevented from airing his views in a public park. Police then beat this man -- for attempting to exercise free speech -- and tore his clothes.

Our resolution parallels the petition being circulated by the Global Campaign for the Anniversary of June 4, convened by Tiananmen leader Wang Dan. The campaign was launched on April 10 and is endorsed by a wide range of international and regional human rights groups.

Many, particularly those with lucrative prospects in China and those with various political agendas, would have us forget. We, however, have chosen to remember, for we know the future is inevitably tethered to the anchors of the past.

Until China squarely faces the events and aftermath of June 4, 1989, there will be no letting bygones be bygones, no business as usual, no end of remembering. If we were to forget, we would betray our own values. With this resolution, we remember to remember.


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