Victims' Rights Caucus

Speeches

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Madam Speaker, I rise in very strong support of this resolution ``recognizing the 20th anniversary of the suppression of protesters and citizens in and around Tiananmen Square in Beijing, People's Republic of China, on June 3 and 4, 1989.'' The words ``Tiananmen'' mean ``Gate of Heavenly Peace.'' Sadly, however, the events of that dark night 20 years ago were anything but heavenly or peaceful.

It was during that dark night that the hopes of a generation for a new and democratic China were cruelly smashed along with the papier-mache and wire statue of the Goddess of Democracy, built with youthful idealism by art students in Tiananmen Square. It was during that dark night that a single, brave figure in the picture seen around the world stood in silent defiance of army tanks as they rolled toward the square.

It was during that dark night that the people of China watched in horror as their own so-called ``People's Army'' turned assault weapons and bayonets on their own people, who reportedly ranged in age from 9 years old to 61 years old, all of whom were participating in a peaceful demonstration.

It was during that dark night that the blood of student martyrs stained a square where a previous generation of students had petitioned the rulers of China for democracy during the May 4 movement in 1919.

It was during that dark night that the pain began for the Tiananmen Mothers who, through two decades of harassment and intimidation, have displayed the courage to keep their dead children's hopes alive and their dreams alive of liberty.

It would be easy to forget that night of the long knives. It would be easy to look at the glittering business towers rising above an increasingly prosperous China and say that is in the past and that it is over. That would be the easy thing to do, Madam Speaker. But that would not be the right thing to do.

A rising China is increasingly taking its place on the international stage. But it is a rising China that has no moral compass. That compass was lost in that dark night in Tiananmen Square when they murdered their own people, mostly students.

Now, two decades later, a time for truth and a time for truth telling is overdue. That is why this resolution calls on the Chinese authorities to invite full and independent investigations into the Tiananmen Square crackdown, assisted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

A famous saying goes that ``Those who forget their past are destined to repeat it.'' Neither China nor the world could stand a repeat of that horrific tragedy of the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

It is time to honor the dead, express profound sympathy to the surviving family members, and to seek a full and honest accounting of the shocking events that occurred two decades ago this week before that gate which is meant to symbolize heavenly peace.

I urge my colleagues to strongly support this resolution, and I reserve the balance of my time.

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