Princeton, N.J., Jun 4, 2014 / 05:19 pm (CNA) - Marking the 25th anniversary of the massacre of protestors at Beijing's Tiananmen Square, the human rights advocate Chen Guangcheng is lamenting the lack of change in the People's Republic of China.
“Twenty-five years later, instead of admitting its evils and facing history, the Communist Party of China continues to cover it all up, and continues its one-party dictatorship,” Chen wrote in a column published June 4 at The Witherspoon Institute.
“Calls for justice have still not been answered. The criminals who ordered the crackdown have still not been held accountable. This is a deep grief for the Chinese people. This is a grief for the whole world.”
Chen became a human rights lawyer in mainland China and was imprisoned for four years, and then placed under house arrest for two years. Escaping his house arrest in 2012, he took refuge at the U.S. embassy in Beijing, and now resides in the U.S.
He marked the pro-democracy protests in China which were quashed in 1989 after 50 days when hundreds were killed June 3-4.
Chen commented that the “heroes who stood in front of the tanks in Tiananmen Square” that year are among the many who have paid the consequence of death opposing the Chinese government.
“The patriotic movement of 1989 was carried out by students and ordinary citizens. They wanted democracy and freedom. They opposed government corruption … many young people died. Many fled the country.”
Chen noted that while China has seen “great economic progress” there “has been very little political reform,” with government officials living as “outlaws,” censoring media and filtering the internet, spending nearly $12 billion annually “not on looking after (China's) people, but in suppressing them.”
The Chinese government prohibits public references to the massacre, utilizing heavy security and online censorship. Only in in the semi-autonomous region of Hong Kong were remembrances permitted; tens of thousands gathered there to attend a candlelight vigil in memory of the protests.
“A government that cannot face its own history is a government without a future,” commented Chen. “Will a government that cannot treat its people with kindness treat other countries any better? I think not.”
He lauded the recent opening of the June Fourth Memorial Museum in Hong Kong, saying it “reveals the truth of what happened, truth that people in mainland China are not allowed to hear.”
“Everything that makes us remember June Fourth, 1989 has its effect,” he said. “Every speech, every story on the radio or TV, every candlelight vigil makes the perpetrators shudder in fear.”
“It gives people courage to think and speak aloud again … today, many Chinese people are beginning to awake. They are overcoming their fear and working for democracy. China will change. But we must stop the Communist Party from brutalizing and suppressing the Chinese people during this inevitable change.”
Chen addressed the U.S. people and government, and “all freedom-loving countries,” encouraging them to “look beyond China's economic success.”
“I urge you to support the ordinary Chinese. Help them end Internet censorship. Help them break down the Great Firewall of China.”
Corrupt regimes, he said, are “a threat to us all … to our very human culture, our human civilization, and our universal human values.”
“To give future generations a free world, we must act now. Work with the human rights lawyers in China. Help the internet activists. Partner with all statesmen who support democracy and freedom.”
Chen concluded, saying, “at the rebirth of democracy in China, the whole world must stand firm.”
“If we speak loudly and clearly, a free China, a democratic China, a China with a constitutional government will come to pass. It must.”