It has been 21 years since the 1989 Tiananmen Square Democracy Movement. It was on June 4, 1989 that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Chinese protested for democracy and as a result were brutally murdered by Chinese government officials.
Yesterday Initiatives for China hosted a memorial service to remember the victims of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Many gathered to remember those who died standing for freedom as well as share their stories about what life is really like as a Chinese citizen today.
The Memorial service was held at the Goddess of Democracy statue in Washington D.C. Dr. Lee Edwards of the Heritage Foundation raised the money for this statue, which was later accepted by President George W. Bush on behalf of the American people. Dr. Edwards opened the ceremony with a short tribute to those who had died fighting, for freedom. “We will not rest until tyranny of communist China has ended,” he said. “There is an innate desire in everyone for freedom and liberty.”
Nancy Pelosi sent a statement to Initiatives for China, which was read aloud to those gathered. Pelosi said to the people of China, “We remember with sadness and outrage how China’s military was unleashed on its own people. 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. These heroes have the courage to speak out for freedom.”
“Today we say to the people of China and freedom-loving people everywhere: Your cause is our cause. We will never forget. We will never forget,” Pelosi concluded.
This sense of remembrance filled the hearts and minds of all those gathered that day. Some people left loved ones in China when they came to the United States with the hope that they will meet again. Others, however, came to the United States to spread their message and raise awareness of what it is really like to live in China today.
Jim Geheran, Director of the Institute for China, told the crowd that the best way for everyone to understand what it is really like to be a Chinese citizen today, is to share their own personal stories. “In China there is no rule of law,” he said. “There is also no room for petition or appeals.”
By continuously telling their stories and informing people of the truth, the world will come to understand, and then perhaps something will be done.
Here are some of their personal stories.
Hu Yan is a mother with a young daughter. She was evicted from her home which was later demolished to prepare space for the Shanghai World Expo 2010. For 5 years she petitioned the government of Shanghai to compensate her family as well as the 18,000 other families who lost their homes. She received only ridicule and intimidation from the Shanghai government. She was told by the government to leave China and go petition her case before the United Nations. That is exactly what she did. She has been camping out in front of the United Nations since April 5th. The flyer she passed out at the Memorial service reads, “The world again turned her eyes to China for the 2010 World Expo. Looking at the magnificent Chinese Pavilion, I cannot feel any proudness, but all sadness and shame, as right on this place, it was my house, my whole family lived there for generations. Tens of thousands of families like us lost our home not for war, not for natural disaster, but for the world’s largest feast. They drove us in cold and fear so the world can see a better China. The theme of the 2010 World Expo is “BETTER CITY, BETTER LIFE.’ I see a better Shanghai, but where is our better life?”
David Tien is a family practitioner as well as the developer of The Global Internet Consortium. The Global Internet Consortium is software he developed which allows Chinese people to bypass internet censorship by the government. He is currently lobbying the State Department for grants to help him scale up operations. According to Director Geheran, however, the State Department is reluctant to fund this initiative. He was in college in China when the Student Movement broke out. He as well as some of his fellow students took a train to Beijing to join. Upon returning to his university, they realized that they returned with just enough time to miss the massacre. The party later took control of his campus and rounded everyone up and forced them into week-long political study sessions. The students had to stay in these sessions until the Party believed that everyone accepted the party line on the Tiananmen Square Massacre.
These and many other people came to tell their stories with the hope that someone will help them spread their message and effect change in the world. The question is, however, will the world listen?
“As an American citizen the biggest horror is to look the other way in the face of tyranny,” said the Founder of Initiatives for China, Dr. Yang Jianli. Although Dr. Jianli has never been to mainland China he has dedicated his life to the mission of Initiatives for China.
“The longer we tolerate repressive regimes, the longer we look the other way, that only emboldens tyranny and it only raises the price we pay down the road,” Dr. Jianli exclaimed. “I am here today because I am an American citizen and because I believe in freedom.”
Secretary Clinton recently visited Shanghai Expo a few weeks ago, recounted Director Geheran. She was handing out teddy bears to Chinese children. He said, “She was handing out teddy bears as she was standing on the polarized remains of 18,000 families whose homes were crushed.”
“How many times can that event happen, how many times can the American government look away at the frustration of the Chinese people?” he remarked. “Frustration does not go away, it only builds up.”