Jim Munson: As we remember June 4, we must not forget the democracy movement in Hong Kong
A speech by the Honourable Jim Munson in the Canadian Senate on June 5 2018.
Senator Jim Munson is a Canadian Senator and a member of the Liberal Party. He is best known for his work in journalism.
Honourable senators, I find it hard to believe that almost 30 years have gone by since the massacre in Tiananmen Square. Let there be no doubt, there was a massacre. I was there.
But if you live in China today, there is no record, absolutely no record of the pro-democracy movement. Talk about a rewrite of history.
On Sunday, the United States urged China to account for the ghosts of Tiananmen. In a statement, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke about the tragic loss of innocent lives by saying the United States joins others in the international community in calling on the Chinese government to make a full public accounting of those killed, detained or missing. He also said:
As Liu Xiaobo wrote in his 2010 Nobel Peace Prize speech, delivered in absentia, ‘the ghosts of June 4th have not yet been laid to rest’ . . . .
The Chinese dissident died in custody last year.
Honourable senators, what has not died is the spirit of those who still seek the truth. Imagine in Hong Kong just two days ago, tens of thousands held a candlelight vigil for the Tiananmen victims. They held candles, sang songs and chanted for democracy and an end to one-party dictatorship.
I wonder how long these voices will be allowed to speak freely, because in Hong Kong the grip of Beijing is slowly and methodically eliminating dissent. Freedom of expression in the media, at universities and in politics is being stifled.
According to Hong Kong Watch, a U.K.-based international human rights organization, more than 100 activists and protesters have been prosecuted.
A young man [Edward Leung] who was in my office just last year, returned to Hong Kong only to be arrested. Even two politicians, Yau Wai-ching and Baggio Leung, legally elected lawmakers in Hong Kong, were arrested in their legislative council chamber and convicted for what was described as illegal assembly in trying to retake their oaths and swearing allegiance to Hong Kong. Imagine this happening inside their legislative building.
Honourable senators, sometimes you have to stand up against the bully. Canada cannot afford to look the other way. Canada has a special relationship with the people of Hong Kong and the people of Hong Kong who live here. The former British colony was returned to Chinese control in 1997 with the promise of one country, two systems, for 50 years.
Honourable senators, on a hot and humid night in June 1989, I told a family who lost a child in Tiananmen that I would never stop speaking out about what I witnessed. I witnessed history, and it wasn’t pretty.
How lonely and tough it must be today for the Tiananmen Mothers who, in their bravery and annual open letter, said the Beijing government was guilty of serious disrespect by ignoring their requests for redress. I quote the letter:
"Such a powerful proletarian dictatorship apparatus is afraid of us: the old, the sick, and the weakest and most vulnerable of our society."
The letter was addressed to Chinese President Xi Jinping. Honourable senators, I rest my case for this year.