Today we mark the ninth anniversary of one of this century's most brutal attempts to silence the voices of freedom and liberty. Nine 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 massacre of those brave souls is still not acknowledged by the authoritarian leaders of China. 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.
There are some who portray the forced exile of prominent dissidents like Wei Jingsheng and Wang Dan as a sign of China's improved record on human rights and the beginning of a post-Tiananmen era. Once again, they are wrong. This new era can only begin when the Chinese government reverses its verdict on Tiananmen Square and acknowledges the massacre; when all of those who are in prison because of the peaceful expression of their political and religious beliefs are freed; when those who have been forced into exile are allowed to return to China to speak freely.
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. We remember the martyrs of the Spring of 1989. We remember the advocates of democracy who languish in China's prison and labor camps. We remember the lone man before the tank. We are here today to show the world that the seeds of democracy sown in 1989 have taken root, and that they will inevitably burst forth in a full flowering. One day soon, the Goddess of Democracy will reign again in Tiananmen Square.
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