“Today we remember the heroes of Tiananmen and call for the release of all political prisoners in China — all political prisoners in China,” said Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives. Pelosi read the names of several Chinese prisoners, and the Panchen Lama, (the second highest ranking figure in Tibetan Buddhism who has been allegedly held by Beijing since he was six years old in 1995), and said the US Congress will not forget them.
Chinese dissident and former political prisoner Yang Jianli, arrived at the Capitol having completed a 500 mile walk from Boston that took him nearly a month. “At a time when the eyes of the world are on China, I’m walking to draw attention to those invisible people of China who have been abducted, imprisoned, or placed under house arrest, for no other reason than attempting to exercise their basic human rights,” he said.
Mr. Bhuchung Tsering, Vice President, International Campaign for Tibet read a message of support for Yang Jianli and the Chinese democracy movement from the Dalai Lama. His Holiness said, “China today is an emerging world power. The international community has acted wisely by making efforts to bring her into the mainstream of the world economy. But economic integration alone is not sufficient. China needs human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. These values are the foundation of a free, dynamic, stable, and peaceful society. Such a society would also offer far greater economic freedom, security, and other advantages to all citizens of the People’s Republic of China.” (Full text of the message is below.)
Message of support from His Holiness the Dalai Lama
I applaud Dr. Yang Jianli for leading a march from Boston to Washington, D.C., culminating on June 4, 2008 – the 19th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square democracy movement.
As a Tibetan, one of the most encouraging, moving and hopeful events in recent Chinese history has been the democracy movement of 1989. Chinese brothers and sisters displayed, openly and peacefully, their yearning for freedom, democracy, and human dignity. They embraced non-violence in a most impressive way, reflecting the value for which the movement stood.
I maintain that the Chinese leadership’s response to the peaceful demonstrations of 1989 was most unfortunate. It is my basic belief that brute force, no matter how powerful, can never subdue the basic human desire for freedom, whether it is that of the Chinese democrats and the farmers, or the Tibetan people. On the other hand, everyone appreciates truth and respect, which are really in our blood. Truth is the best guarantor and the real foundation for freedom and democracy.
China today is an emerging world power. The international community has acted wisely by making efforts to bring her into the mainstream of the world economy. But economic integration alone is not sufficient. China needs human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. These values are the foundation of a free, dynamic, stable, and peaceful society. Such a society would also offer far greater economic freedom, security, and other advantages to all citizens of the People’s Republic of China.
As a believer in non-violence, peace, and freedom, I have supported the non-violent democracy movement in China from the beginning. In spite of the brutal response from the authorities, I pray that those involved in China’s democracy movement will always remain non-violent.
It is ironical that today, while the Chinese Government is making every effort to get recognition as a leading world power, many Chinese people, particularly the victims of the Tiananmen tragedy, their parents, as well as farmers and workers, continue to be deprived of their basic rights. I hope and pray that the leaders of China will realize that a nation’s greatness can only come about when it starts treating its own people with dignity and respect.
I wish Dr. Yang Jianli all success in his present endeavor and hope the march will bring about greater awareness of the continuing plight of these people.
With my prayers and good wishes,
May 8, 2008