On the seventeenth anniversary of the massacre of peaceful, pro-democracy demonstrators in China, the United States urges the Chinese government to provide a full accounting of those killed, detained, or missing.
The largest of the pro-democracy demonstrations was held in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. Hundreds, perhaps even thousands, were killed in Beijing, in areas not far from the square when the demonstrators were attacked by Chinese troops using tanks and guns. Many of the protest leaders who avoided arrest went into exile. Amnesty International, an independent monitoring group, has identified more than eighty people who remain imprisoned or on medical parole for their participation in the 1989 Tiananmen demonstrations.
Nicholas Becquelin is a researcher with Human Rights Watch. He says the demonstrations in Tiananmen Square and elsewhere represented a democratic challenge to China's communist government:
"It [the Chinese government] has tried very hard since 1989 to claim that it did not do anything wrong – that they were facing counterrevolutionary troubles that had to be put down violently and at the same time prevent any type of inquiry into what happened. So I think the [Chinese] government is still extremely sensitive about this, does not want to reopen the issue, and certainly does not want to acknowledge any kind of guilt or fault."
In a written statement, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says, "No country, especially one which is playing an increasingly important role in world affairs, should fear an examination of its past, nor prevent its people from exercising their basic rights to accountable government and free speech, assembly, and worship. It is in China's own interest," says State Department spokesman McCormack, "to clear the record and achieve its true potential by linking its efforts to modernize and prosper with greater freedom for the Chinese people."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.