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Rubio, Smith Statement on 29th Anniversary of Tiananmen Massacre

Jun 4, 2018 | Press Releases

Washington D.C.— U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and U.S. Representative Christopher Smith (R-NJ), chair and co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China respectively, issued the following statements commemorating the 29th anniversary of the Tiananmen protests and their violent suppression.  The Chairs reiterated their call for the Chinese government to end prohibitions of public and online discussion about the event, and reaffirmed their support for robust enforcement of “Tiananmen sanctions” and other export controls that limit the ability of Chinese police and security forces to buy U.S. technology for surveillance, crowd control, and censorship.
“Tiananmen Square Massacre’s anniversary reminds us that the fundamental human yearning for dignity and basic rights is not limited to any one region or country,” said Senator Rubio.  “Outrage over the Chinese government and Communist Party’s brutal response to the protestors’ legitimate and peaceful demands for democratic reform reverberated internationally, most notably behind the Iron Curtain where pro-democracy movements rapidly grew in the wake of the crackdown, inspired by the bravery of the students, workers, and other ordinary people who gathered in cities across China that spring.  China’s Communist Party weathered cosmic geopolitical shifts over the following years that saw the collapse of the Soviet Union, and has emerged today richer and more powerful while the Chinese people remain unfree.  As we reflect on the unfulfilled aspirations of over a million Chinese citizens who gathered in the square and across China 29 years ago, I call on the Chinese government to allow free and open discourse surrounding the events of that spring, to unconditionally release those detained or imprisoned for attempting to commemorate the anniversary, and to reckon publicly with the horrific violence against the Chinese people at the hands of the Party and the military. As reports of the Chinese government’s ongoing rights abuses and increasingly sophisticated surveillance regime continue to emerge, I urge American corporations to be clear-eyed that any technology or crime control equipment that they sell to Chinese security forces and police, may be used or abused to further repression, surveillance, detention or other abuses.”
“We commemorate the Tiananmen massacre each year because of its enduring impact on U.S.-China relations and because there has been no justice for those who lost their lives seeking freedom and reform. We commemorate the tragedy of Tiananmen each year because it is an event too important to forget and too dangerous to commemorate in China,” said Representative Smith. “The Tiananmen protests and their violent suppression demonstrated that the ideas of democracy and due process, liberty and the rule of law are not foreign to the people of China.  They also showed the lengths to which the Communist government will go to suppress these universal impulses and maintain their grip on power.  There continue to be those in China bravely seeking rights and the rule of law and carrying on the legacy of Tiananmen. Unfortunately, repression continues. By nearly every measure, China is today as intolerant of dissent as it’s ever been, if not more.  The Administration recognizes the strategic importance of linking our values and interests and we in Congress will continue to urge them to take steps, symbolic and tangible alike, that will communicate to the Chinese people that their struggle and sacrifice have not been forgotten. A firm stand in support of freedom, the rule of law, and human rights in China will be beneficial both to the future of China and peace and prosperity in the world.” 
CECC Resources on Tiananmen & its Legacy:  The CECC Political Prisoner Database has 435 records of individuals currently or formerly detained for participating in the pro-democracy demonstrations in spring 1989, seeking redress for Chinese government violence on or around June 4, 1989, or trying to commemorate June Fourth.  Highlighted below are some cases of those detained or silenced for peacefully advocating for the same human rights and political reforms that inspired the pro-democracy protesters in 1989.   
Liu Xia:  Wife of the late writer and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo whom authorities first detained as an alleged “black hand” behind the Tiananmen protests, Liu Xia remains under extrajudicial confinement at her home for the eighth year. Despite official promises of freedom of movement and an invitation from Germany for Liu Xia to travel there for medical care, Chinese authorities have refused her request to leave China. Her physical and mental health have deteriorated during her years of confinement.    
Huang Qi:  Citizen journalist and founder of the rights monitoring website 64 Tianwang Human Rights Center, Huang was detained in November 2016 and charged with “illegally providing state secrets overseas.”  His trial is scheduled for June 20, 2018.  He suffers from kidney and heart disease and has been refused medical parole.  He previously served a 5-year sentence for “subversion” for his advocacy on behalf of the families of Tiananmen protest victims. 
Qin Yongmin: A prominent democracy advocate, Qin has been detained without trial since January 2015, reportedly facing charges of “subversion of state power.” Qin founded the banned China Democracy Party as well as China Human Rights Watch (known online as the Rose Team). Qin has previously served a combined 20 years in prison for his participation in the Democracy Wall movement and other pro-democracy activities. 
Zhen Jianghua:  A human rights activist and citizen journalist, Zhen was detained in September 2017.  Zhen is an executive director of Human Rights Campaign in China, which publishes information about rights abuses and provides aid for people involved in or reporting on such cases.  In addition, Zhen had been a strong supporter of victims of the “709 Crackdown,” which was launched against China’s human rights lawyers in July 2015, and he has joined demonstrations to call for the release of detained lawyers and activists.
Tiananmen Mothers:  A group of parents and family members of the victims of the violent suppression of the pro-democracy demonstrations in spring 1989, the Tiananmen Mothers continue to press for government accountability and redress. A letter from the group reported that 51 family members of Tiananmen victims have passed away in recent years, raising concerns that public advocacy on behalf of Tiananmen victims will fade as will the unique stories of those who have died.