On June 3rd, the eve of the 22nd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Incident, Laogai Research Foundation hosted Tiananmen hero Yu Zhijian and Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) at the Laogai Museum.
Amidst the tumultuous 1989 democracy movement, Mr. Yu, along with two others, filled eggs with ink and threw them at Mao Zedong’s massive portrait hanging over Tiananmen Square. It was not long before the three were arrested for desecrating Mao’s image, and Mr. Yu was locked up for 12 years of his life sentence. Although he now lives in the U.S., on Friday, Yu Zhijian spoke with passion about the need to keep on remembering and commemorating those lost on June 4th, 1989 all across China. He expressed outrage that so many details of the event have been covered up, and that even now, no one knows just how many died. He felt that after so many years, one would have figured the Chinese Communist Party’s power would have receded, but due to the fact that upon facing threats or bribery from the CCP, the people betrayed their own dignity and gave up on their ideals. Now, the CCP has instead grown stronger. He was embarrassed by the failure of a “Jasmine Revolution” in China. Finally, he criticized the CCP’s tactics, saying that, “when deception is used to inspire the people, it can only lead to fake morale.” He asserted that “the spirit of Tiananmen can never die- it is representative of the eternal value of the human race.”
Rep. Smith also expressed that “too many people, especially in the West have forgotten,” and many, especially in the government, “have been far too accommodating of those who committed atrocities.” He said that “someday democracy, freedom, and human rights will come to China,” and that, “those of us who believe that human rights will come someday to China will never cease in our push.” He also announced his introduction of a bill, H.R. 2121, known as the “China Democracy Promotion Act of 2011,” which would empower the President to deny the issuance of visas to any senior Chinese leadership personnel who have committed human rights abuses in the People’s Republic of China. He emphasized that, “just because China is strong, this should not mean that their government can be treated with impunity.”
The event concluded with a screening of selected scenes from the 2006 PBS Frontline documentary, The Tank Man, which included first-hand accounts of the turmoil of 1989 and insight into the impact of the nameless man who dared to stand up to the repressive Communist government.