Thursday, June 4, 2009

20th anniversary of Tiananmen Square protests

It's been one heck of a week. We're so glad same-sex couples in New Hampshire won the right to marry yesterday. We're still working to ensure the safety of abortion providers across the country in the wake of Dr. Tiller's assassination.

And we want to mark the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing, in which Chinese soldiers killed hundreds of peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators.

The Chinese government has not acknowledged the crackdown or the victims, and information on the massacre is not readily available in China. A generation of young Chinese men and women know little to nothing about the quashed democracy movement. The BBC interviewed several Chinese in their teens and twenties on their impressions of the Tiananmen Square protests, and their stories are sad, and powerful. The government is trying to erase history.

Of course, government censorship will not succeed in suppressing our memories and distorting our social history. Today, a vigil in Hong Kong commemorating the killings drew an estimated 62,800 Chinese citizens and activists.

The folks that gathered have not forgotten the bullets and armored tanks the authoritarian government unleashed into the crowded square. The international community will not forget the protestors' courage, optimism, and activism of that turbulent spring in 1989.

We hope Chinese activists will keep working for a more honest, transparent, responsive, and humane government. We need U.S. and other foreign leaders to hold Beijing accountable for its past and present human rights abuses. If we do not, then we too should be prepared to share responsibility for these state-sanctioned abuses.

Photo credit: Jeff Widener/AP

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