Washington, D.C. (June 3, 2011) – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released a statement on the 22nd Anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, to remember the Chinese students, workers, and citizens who peacefully assembled to call for the end of corruption, the acceleration of democratic reform, and a dialogue with China’s leaders.
“One of the most enduring images of the 20th Century will forever be seared into our conscience – the picture of the lone man standing in the street, bringing the line of tanks to a grinding halt. Today, the spirit of Tiananmen lives on in the hearts and minds of those continuing the struggle both in China and abroad.
“The Tiananmen Mothers movement and the families of those lost continue to call on the Chinese government to enter into a dialogue and to provide ‘an earnest and responsible account’ of the events of June 4, 1989. It is long past time for the Chinese government to provide a full, public accounting of the crackdown, stop persecution of the families, and finally allow the families to mourn publicly without interference.
“Today, as the heroes of Tiananmen are remembered, the Chinese government intensifies its crackdown those calling for democratic reform. In recent months, an alarming number of Chinese religious leaders, artists, lawyers, bloggers, and workers have disappeared, been harassed and intimidated, forcibly detained, and imprisoned.
“The Chinese government should immediately and unconditionally release those imprisoned for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and religion including:
• Liu Xiaobo: the world’s only imprisoned Nobel Peace Price Laureate, who co-authored Charter 08, an online petition calling for democratic reform;
• Ai Weiwei: high-profile artist and critic of the Chinese government who has been detained and not heard from since April 3, 2011;
• Liu Xianbin: democracy activist and former Tiananmen activist who was recently sentenced to ten years in prison for writing articles critical of the Chinese government;
• Tang Jitian, Teng Biao, and Jiang Tianyong: prominent lawyers arbitrarily detained earlier this year for their roles in the protection of human rights; and
• Gao Zhisheng: a human rights lawyer who has been missing for two years;
“The spirit of Tiananmen endures and inspires in China and all over the world. Tanks and troops may crush a protest, but they can never extinguish the flame of freedom that burns in every human heart.”