PRESS RELEASE: WUC Calls for Solidarity on the 31st Anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre
Recent events have made evident how precious our rights and liberties are and the need for solidarity, empathy and compassion to defend them. Peaceful protests and the right to freedom of assembly is an essential part of a society’s interaction with the governing authorities. This is important for all oppressed and marginalized people around the world who seek equality, human rights, freedom and democracy.
The massacre in Tiananmen Square 31 years ago was a tragic revocation of that right and has set the tone for how the Chinese government has treated the people under its control. The democracy protests in China in 1989 was a remarkable time of solidarity and hope for all peoples under the rule of the Chinese government. Peaceful protests were not only being held in Beijing, but also in East Turkistan, Tibet and across China. For a brief moment, a future where all people were equal and had a voice seemed possible. Uyghurs, Tibetans and Han Chinese were united in one cause centered on common humanity and the betterment of all people living under the CCP.
This dream was violently taken from us by the Chinese government on June 4, 1989 as peaceful democracy protesters were met with a brutal and violent response that would prove to be a major indication of the direction the Chinese government would take in the next 30 years. The CCP indiscriminately fired into the crowds of peaceful protesters, killing possibly thousands of innocent people. Thousands of the brightest minds and most passionate activists from all communities in China disappeared or faced lengthy prison sentences.
This proved a turning point that resulted in a severe escalation in violence and repression of activists in China. In the 30 years since, nearly all remaining rights and freedoms were stripped away. For the Uyghur people, the right to freedom of assembly has been completely denied and Uyghur voices have been snuffed out. All attempts to demonstrate or collectively voice frustrations have been met with violence, oppression and massacres. Next month we will commemorate the Urumqi massacre of 2009, where hundreds (possibly thousands) of Uyghurs were executed or disappeared for taking to the streets to voice their dissatisfaction.
The response of the Chinese government during the Tiananmen protests has set the country on a dangerous path and resulted in decades of misery. With the CCP silencing any voice other than its own, atrocities are now taking place. In contemporary China, millions of innocent Uyghurs have disappeared into internment camps or subjected to modern slavery in forced labour facilities as the CCP tries to destroy the Uyghur ethnic identity. Tibet is also seeing the CCP systematically destroy everything that makes them unique, after violently quashing dissent after protests in 2008. The people of Hong Kong have been bravely defending their rights and freedoms through a year of peaceful protests, but now are faced with a similar future to Uyghurs and Tibetans after the passing of the national security law.
On the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, the WUC honors the memory of all those demonstrators, who lost their lives striving for democracy and human rights. The right to freedom of assembly is the cornerstone of a functioning and free society, which has been denied by the CCP for decades.
Governments have an obligation to listen and address the concerns and complaints of their people. Silencing and repressing peaceful dissension only exacerbates issues, enflames tensions and widens divisions. Whether it is in Hong Kong, East Turkistan or with the Black Lives Matters demonstrators in the US, governments must listen to the voices of the people and engage in dialogue, rather than perpetuate violence.
We must emulate the solidarity and optimism of the democracy protesters in 1989 in order to result in meaningful and lasting change. All those who seek true equality, human rights, and freedom must make their voices heard, for those whose voices have been silenced.
“The international community failed to hold China accountable for its atrocities in Tiananmen Square in 1989, which has resulted in decades of suffering for millions of people.” said WUC President Dolkun Isa. “We must not make the same mistake again. Democracy, freedom and human rights must not be taken for granted. If we want a better world, we must raise our voices and demand change.”