The 30th anniversary of China’s 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre was memorialized with a rally and dedication of a statue on the West Lawn of the Capitol in Washington on Tuesday, June 4.

The statue was unveiled and is called Tank Man. It was dedicated by the group Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and honors the iconic actions of the Chinese citizen who bravely stood in front of an advancing tank. The world watch in horror the following morning as the tank was forced it to stop and then witnessed the attack of pro-democracy students in Tiananmen Square the night before as they opened fire, killing unarmed students and running them over with tanks and other armored vehicles.

A survivor of the Tiananmen Square massacre, Yang Jianli, shared his determination to never forget those who were killed or the ideals that are still hoped for today.||22311d136__

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“We come here. After 30 years to reaffirm that no matter how many days or decades have gone by, there will never be a time when we forget the heroes we have lost, and that their mission that remains undone.” said Yang.  

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also spoke at the rally. She said, “We must realize that what the Chinese did that day is a challenge to the conscience of the world. We cannot ignore that challenge. We must face it, and we must face what the Chinese are doing to the Uighurs in China today.”

Three unidentified men flee the scene, as a Chinese man, (background L) stands alone to block a line of approaching tanks, in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. (Terril Jones/AP Photo, File)

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) attended the rally and shared his thoughts. “We stand with the students, the workers, and the citizens who so bravely called for change in China in 1989. We stand with the Tiananmen Mothers their simple request to mourn their children publicly, and have a full accounting of the victims.”

The group Tiananmen Mothers was formed by two mothers whose sons were killed in the Tiananmen massacre by the communist regime and includes the fathers, friends, and other relatives of victims of the massacre. They promote democracy in China and oppose the Chinese communist regime’s efforts to suppress information about the historic 1989 peaceful protests.

Human rights activist Mi Ling Tsui was presented with the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom on behalf of the Tiananmen Mothers and spoke on their behalf.

“They have refused to accept state enforced amnesia to document the dead, to gather evidence of the crimes committed against unarmed civilians simply for exercising their fundamental rights to assemble and to express their aspirations for a cleaner government, and a better China.” said Tsui.

McGovern also spoke of those who continue to face persecution in China today, including Falun Gong practitioners, Uighers, Tibetans, and Christians. “We stand with thousands of political and religious prisoners of conscience who are denied, who are detained or imprisoned, for exercising the very human rights guaranteed by China’s constitution and international law.”

Moments after the above photo, the man known as Tank Man stands his ground, bringing the row of tanks to a stop near Tiananmen Square on June 5, 1989. Photographer: Jeff Widener/AP Photo (Jeff Widener/AP Photo)

Wang Dan, another survivor of the Tiananmen massacre who was jailed in China for pro-democracy activities, shared his devotion to those who died and his determination to continue seeking freedom for China.

He said, ”We will never forget you. We will never give up. We will unite again, and set off again. We will continue your ideals and the fight for a brighter future of China.”  

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