Message on the Twentieth Anniversary of Tiananmen Square
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
June 3, 2009
On this the 20th anniversary of the violent suppression of demonstrations in Tiananmen Square by Chinese authorities, we should remember the tragic loss of hundreds of innocent lives and reflect upon the meaning of the events that preceded that day.
Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets for weeks, in Beijing and around the country, first to honor the late reformist leader Hu Yaobang and then to demand basic rights denied to them.
A China that has made enormous progress economically, and that is emerging to take its rightful place in global leadership, should examine openly the darker events of its past and provide a public accounting of those killed, detained or missing, both to learn and to heal.
This anniversary provides an opportunity for Chinese authorities to release from prison all those still serving sentences in connection with the events surrounding June 4, 1989. We urge China to cease the harassment of participants in the demonstrations and begin dialogue with the family members of victims, including the Tiananmen Mothers. China can honor the memory of that day by moving to give the rule of law, protection of internationally-recognized human rights, and democratic development the same priority as it has given to economic reform.