Twenty-one years ago today the Chinese government gave the world a glimpse into its bizarre, authoritarian rule and its willingness to suppress dissent at any cost. The Tiananmen Massacre forever changed the way China interacts with the world. Since then, we've watched the government's tactics of repression and control evolve - the CCP's public relations department has grown dramatically, hand-in-hand with its censorship outfit - leaving the world guessing what anything (socialism, communism, capitalism) "with Chinese characteristics" really means.
On the twentieth anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre, Laogai Research Foundation hosted "Three Heroes of Tiananmen" on Capitol Hill, an event that reunited Yu Zhijian, Lu Decheng, and Yu Dongyue - three men who defaced the large portrait of Mao Zedong that hangs in Tiananmen Square during the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations - and held "Commemorating the Unforgettable: Tiananmen 20 Years On," a panel discussion hosted at the National Endowment for Democracy. (Read more after the jump)
Since then, we've seen China's most prominent human-rights lawyers denied licenses to practice, disappeared, and even banned from entering China. We've seen the lock up of Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen, the formal arrest and sentencing of human rights activist Liu Xiaobo, and countless others in China charged with "stealing state secrets," "inciting subversion," "splittism," or any other ambiguous charge that the government uses to imprison dissenters.
When will substantive change, not just reactionary PR, occur in China? If the protesters in Tiananmen cannot have their democracy, can they at least have the right to ask for it? If not twenty-one years after the Tiananmen Square massacre, when? For more on the twenty-first anniversary of the Massacre, click here.