The US today asked China to respect the “universal rights” and “fundamental freedoms” of all its citizens and called for making a full account of those killed or detained in the Chinese government’s 1989 military crackdown on protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. “We call again on China to make a full account of those killed, detained, or missing due to the events of June 4, 1989,” US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement on the occasion of the 28th anniversary of the Chinese government’s violent suppression of a peaceful protest at the iconic Tiananmen Square.
The US urged China to cease “harassment” of family members seeking redress and to release from prison those who have been jailed for striving to keep the memory of Tiananmen Square alive. “The US views the protection of human rights as a fundamental duty of all countries, and we urge the Chinese government to respect the universal rights and fundamental freedoms of all its citizens,” Tillerson said.
“Today, the Chinese government continues to deny the legacy of those courageous Chinese men and women. Children learn of their story only in whispers told by parents – not from the pages of history books, where they belong,” House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said.
“We must use this anniversary to remember what happened and what is still happening, each day. The Chinese government continues to jail journalists, human rights lawyers, those fighting to practice their own religion, booksellers and other human rights activists at a disturbing rate. It is unconscionable that the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo is still behind bars,” she said.
Pelosi said if US will not support human rights in China, then the country lose all moral authority to speak about human rights anywhere in the world.
“America must stand up for the dignity and worth of every person and speak out against the many human rights abuses that China continues to commit,” said the top Democratic Leader. Also a bipartisan group of lawmakers in a letter have urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to lift restrictions on public discussion of the Tiananmen protests and their violent suppression and to release individuals detained for commemorating the June 4 anniversary and human rights lawyers detained in the “709” crackdown.
“The ongoing prohibition of public and online discussion of what transpired in the spring and summer of 1989 has done more to negatively shape global perceptions of the Chinese government than anything else in your country’s recent history,” it said. “Open information about the Tiananmen massacre and its aftermath is crucial for Chinese citizens, and is a vital concern to those of us seeking more productive US-China relations,” said the letter written by members of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC).
Joining Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Chris Smith, respectively the CECC’s Chair and Cochair, in signing the letter were Commissioners Senators Jeff Merkley and Tom Cotton and Representatives Timothy Walz, Robert Pittenger, Randy Hultgren, and Marcy Kaptur.
The Commissioners also said in the letter that they were “gravely troubled” by the nationwide campaign targeting Chinese human rights lawyers and rights advocates that started in July, 2015 and asked the Chinese President to unconditionally release those still detained and investigate reports of torture, including the forced ingestion of “unknown substances with adverse psychological and physical effects.”
Every year June 4 is seen as a stark reminder of the day when thousands of young people took over the streets of Beijing, challenging the might of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the military. The riots followed the death of one CPCs reformist leaders Hu Yaobang who was forced to resign as Party General Secretary.
The CPC, which termed the protests counter-revolutionary riots, ordered the military to put down the rebellion following which heavy violence ensued. For its part the CPC and the government continued to reiterate that history has shown that the path chosen by the Party was right.