Thirty-five years ago, the Chinese government turned weapons against their own people in Beijing. As the tanks rolled into the city, millions of ordinary residents ran into the streets, standing bravely in front of the soldiers. Yet, the young protestors who opposed corruption and stood for freedom were brutally gunned down by the same government they had hoped would listen to their pleas.

Today, we honor the memory of those protestors, all those who fell in the name of justice and freedom.

In China, the government has attempted to erase the memory of those terrible events from history altogether. Yet every year, there are those who find ways to remember and commemorate, even knowing that they risk consequences and even imprisonment for doing so. We honor their bravery and pay tribute to all those who have fought to keep the memory alive in the face of censorship and repression.

The families of the victims, the Tiananmen Mothers, have fought for their loved ones for 35 years. Now, many of them have passed away themselves, still desperate for justice. They continue to face repression from the government, including harassment and police surveillance. This year, they were prevented from even gathering to commemorate the anniversary. Yet, every year, they persist in speaking out and making sure their voices are heard. We honor their work and urge the international community to uplift their voices and support their efforts.

In Hong Kong, for decades, the people of the city gathered each year to commemorate the anniversary of June Fourth. Yet, since 2019, the government has sought to erase the word “Tiananmen.” Those who sought to keep the memory alive have faced harsh penalties, as Hong Kong has cracked down on free speech and peaceful assembly. We honor woman human rights defender Chow Hang-tung and the organizers of the June Fourth Vigil, who are imprisoned now for their beliefs. We honor college student Zeng Yuxuan, who was imprisoned merely for planning to display a banner commemorating June Fourth, and who has now disappeared in the Mainland.

The events of 1989 were a pivotal point for China. The people’s voice showed the way to a new beginning, but the government chose, instead, to violently silence the protestors and lead the country down a path opposed to human rights. Over the last 35 years, the number of political prisoners has only increased, as any dissent or civil society action is seen as a threat to the power of the government. Repression of free speech and information is an integral part of the Communist Party of China (CCP)’s rule.

In 1989, the world watched in awe, and then in horror, as the Chinese people bravely stood up and were brutally pushed down. Yet, after the massacre, the United States and other democratic countries chose to embrace the CCP government in the name of trade and investment, allowing it to survive despite its loss of legitimacy. This government, which had chosen to enact violence against its own citizens, was further emboldened to imprison over a million Uyghurs, repress Tibetans to the point of self-immolation, and deprive Hong Kong of its freedom. We strongly urge the international community to prioritize China’s human rights record rather than self-censoring for the sake of short-term economic gains.

The 1989 movement was a completely peaceful protest that gained the overwhelming support of the Chinese population and was an inspiring event for the whole world. The protestors were an image of human dignity, standing together to demand a more just and free country. Today, we continue fighting in their name, believing in the future of a rights-respecting and democratic China.

Signatories (Alphabetical Order) (47):

Amigos del Tíbet – Colombia
Associations France-Tibet
Australia Tibet Council
Campaign for Uyghurs
Chicago Solidarity with Hong Kong (CSHK)
China Aid Association
Chinese Democracy & Human Rights Alliance
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
Comité de Apoyo al Tíbet (CAT), Spain
Free Tibet
Free Tibet Fukuoka
Germany stands with Hong Kong
Grupo de Apoio ao Tibete-Portugal
Hong Kong Committee in Norway
Hong Kong Watch
Human Rights in China
Human Rights Watch
Humanitarian China
Indo Pacific Human Rights Information Center
International Campaign for Tibet
International Tibet Network
Internationel Society for Human Rights – Sweden
India Tibet Friendship Society NAGPUR
India Tibet Friendship Manch Nagpur Maharashtra
LUNGTA – Actief voor Tibet
Nirodha Psicoterapias
NY Democracy Wall
Students for a Free Tibet Belgium
Students for a Free Tibet – India
Swedish Tibet Committee
Swiss Tibetan Friendship Association
The Norwegian Tibet Committee
The Tibet Support Committee, Denmark
Tibet Action Institute
Tibet Solidarity
Tibet Support Groep Nederland
Tibet Initiative Deutschland e.V.
Tibetan Parliament in Exile
V-TAG United Kingdom
V-TAG Belgium
V-TAG Switzerland
V-TAG Netherlands
Voluntary Tibet Advocacy Group – Canada
Voluntary Tibet Advocacy Group – India
Washingtonians Supporting Hong Kong (DC4HK)