"Twenty one years ago this week, thousands of Chinese students, workers, and citizens assembled in Tiananmen Square to bravely speak out. They called for the elimination of corruption. They called for an acceleration of democratic reform, freedom of speech and assembly. They called for a dialogue with China's leaders on how to make progress.
"We remember with sadness and outrage how China's military was unleashed on its own people. One of the most enduring images of the 20th Century will forever be seared into our conscience – the picture of the lone man standing in the street, bringing the line of tanks to a grinding halt. Today, the spirit of Tiananmen lives on in the hearts and minds of those continuing the struggle both in China and abroad. These heroes have the courage to speak out for freedom.
"Liu Xiaobo is one of those individuals. In the 1990s, Liu has spent five years in prison and in re-education-through-labor camps for supporting the Tiananmen students and questioning the one-party system. In 2008, Liu was arrested again for being one of the organizers of Charter 08, an online public petition for democracy and the rule of law that has over 8,000 signatures of Chinese citizens. In 2009, Liu was sentenced 11 years imprisonment for 'inciting subversion of state power.' The harshness of his sentence is further proof of the power of his message among Chinese citizens.
"While the Chinese government prohibits its people from publicly discussing the events of June 4th, the people of Hong Kong exercise their civil liberties on each anniversary by holding a candlelight vigil in memory of the victims. This year for the first time, police arrested activists and confiscated the Goddess of Democracy replica statue that is the symbol of the Tiananmen movement. This crackdown on freedom of expression will only succeed in shining a spotlight on the courage of Hong Kong's democratic movement. The United States must stand solidly with the people of Hong Kong in their desire for democracy and freedom of speech and assembly.
"The spirit of Tiananmen continues to inspire and endure. Today we say to the people of China and freedom-loving people everywhere: 'Your cause is our cause. We will never forget.'"