It’s been 26 years since China’s violent suppression of pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Protesters, many of them students, had gathered in the capital and around the country for weeks to demand political change and respect for the fundamental human rights they were being denied by the government.
It is not known how many people were killed in the violent confrontation, which was followed by a roundup of protest participants. Chinese authorities have tried to expunge the event from China’s official history by censoring discussion of what occurred, and by making sure no commemorations take place on Tiananmen Square.
The world, however, remembers the events of June 4th 1989. The world remembers the iconic photograph taken from a Beijing hotel room of a single young man standing up to a Chinese army tank – a photograph that captures the valiant spirit of individuals throughout history who unabashedly demand their rights.
In a press statement, State Department Spokesperson John Kirby took note of the 26th anniversary of the violent suppression of peaceful protests in and around Tiananmen Square. “The United States,” he said, “continues to call for an official accounting of the victims of these events, the release of those still serving Tiananmen-related sentences, and an end to the harassment and detention of those who wish to peacefully commemorate the anniversary.”
Mr. Kirby said “while China has achieved social and economic progress since 1989, the United States remains concerned that human rights violations in China continue.”
“We are closely monitoring developments with respect to pending legislation in China relating to national security, counterterrorism, and the regulation of NGOs that appears to call into question China’s commitment to increased openness and could, if enacted in current form, result in rights abuses,” said Spokesperson Kirby.
“On this 26th anniversary, the United States urges the Chinese government to uphold its international commitments to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms and to end the harassment, detention, and other mistreatment of individuals who peacefully seek justice and fairness, to practice their religion, or to express their views.”