Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi: The World Will Not Forget the Martyrs of Tiananmen Square

June 4, 2002

House Democratic Whip Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) issued the following statement on the House floor this evening, on the 13th anniversary of the massacre at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, on June 4, 1989:

Mr. Speaker, today we mark the 13th anniversary of one of this century's most brutal attempts to silence the voices of freedom and liberty.

Thirteen years ago, the Chinese regime shocked the world as it rolled out the tanks and crushed the pro-democracy movement taking shape in Tiananmen Square.

The authoritarian leaders of China still do not acknowledge the massacre of those brave souls. We have not forgotten those who lost their lives for the cause of freedom.

We must not forget those still imprisoned, who have lost their liberty in pursuit of this basic human right.

Today we renew our call for the Chinese government to acknowledge the massacre and free all of those who are in prison because of the peaceful expression of their political and religious beliefs.

China must also allow the return and free expression of those who have been forced into exile.

China must stop imprisoning those who continue to work for democracy and human rights in China and Tibet. Just last week, two more brave Chinese dissidents who have promoted the China Democracy Party, Hu Mingjun and Wang Sen, were convicted of subversion and sentenced to more than 10 years in prison.

Mr. Speaker, I wish I could tell you that human rights in China have gotten better since 1989, but the sad fact is that they have not.

In its annual report on human rights, issued in March, the State Department said: “The Chinese government's human rights record throughout the year remained poor, and the government continued to commit numerous and serious abuses.

“Authorities still were quick to suppress any person or group, whether religious, political, or social, that they perceived to be a threat to government power, or to national stability, and citizens who sought to express openly dissenting political and religious views continued to live in an environment filled with repression.”

When China's presumed heir apparent, Vice President Hu Jintao, visited Washington recently, he refused to accept four letters from Members of Congress I tried to give him, all of which raised human rights issues and urged China to release political prisoners.

One of those prisoners, Xu Wenli, founder of the China Democracy Party, is serving a 13-year sentence in a Chinese prison.

Mr. Xu is one of China's bravest, most eloquent and also most measured advocates of democracy. Yet he remains behind bars, despite being gravely ill from hepatitis contracted in prison.

Mr. Speaker, the brave men and women who demonstrated for democracy in Tiananmen are the legitimate heirs to the legacy of our founding fathers.

They quoted Thomas Jefferson. They built a monument fashioned after our Statue of Liberty. They looked to the United States as a beacon of hope and of freedom.

We looked -- and still look -- to them for their courage, their idealism, and their dedication to the establishment of basic human rights.

The spirit of Tiananmen Square lives on. The seeds of democracy sown in 1989 have taken root, and they will inevitably burst forth in a full flowering.

The world will not forget the martyrs of the spring of 1989. The world will remember the advocates of democracy who languish in China's prison and labor camps.

The world will remember the lone man before the tank.