Chinese Dissident 25 Years After Tiananmen: Stop Treating These Criminals As Honored Guests

By Tatiana Lozano | June 5, 2014 | 9:58am EDT


Blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng. (AP photo)

( - Twenty-five years after the Tiananmen Square massacre, civil rights advocate Chen Guangcheng pushed world leaders to come to the aid of advocates for democracy in China and to censure Chinese officials for their continuing human rights offenses.

“I urge you to support the ordinary Chinese,” Chen said during his first speech in English at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in Washington Tuesday.

“Help them end Internet censorship. Help them break down the Great Firewall of China. Stop receiving the June Fourth Incident criminals as your honored guests," he said. "Don’t let those who crush human rights enter your free, democratic countries. Deny them the warmth of your handshake, the warmth of your smile. Evildoers won’t stop until they are held responsible.

“Dishonoring evildoers is not dishonorable,” he said. “But honoring them honors their crimes. A corrupt regime is a threat to us all.”

Despite official silence on the eve of the anniversary, between 100,000 and 180,000 people attended a late-night vigil in remembrance of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations in Hong Kong Wednesday.

A protester prays for those killed during the Tiananmen Square protests. (AP photo)

Chen - who became an internationally known dissident after he filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of women who were forced to have abortions under China’s one-child policy - also accused the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) of making Chinese citizens “their number one enemy.”

However, he was skeptical about attempts to convince the CCP to be more responsive on human rights issues.

Speaking through a translator, Chen noted, “By doing it this way, it is pretty much like taking sides with the evildoers. And because they don’t care about human rights; they only talk about - care about - their privileges. So, it’s impossible to convince them….They think the country belongs to the party, and there’s no way you can convince them with that idea.”

A self-taught lawyer by trade, Chen fled to the United States in 2012 in a daring nighttime escape from his home in Shandong Province after serving four years in jail and two years under house arrest.

Hundreds of demonstrators were killed and thousands more were detained by the People's Liberation Army in Beijing on June 4, 1989 after protesting against political corruption and economic problems. Several  leaders of the protest, including Wuer Kaixi, fled to Western countries such as France and the United States with the help of pro-democracy sympathizers in Hong Kong under Operation Yellowbird.

More recently, the Chinese government has reportedly instituted “black jails” in order to detain dissenters, although the Communist party denies their existence. Chinese officials also blocked Internet users from using Google this week in anticipation of the June 4th anniversary.

However, international criticism of its human rights record has apparently not fazed China’s rulers. In February, Li Yulong, a professor affiliated with the CCP’s Central Committee, defended China’s Internet censorship.

The Internet "can only achieve openness and ensure the public's rights of participation, expression and supervision with the prerequisite of establishing orders," Li told Xinhua, China's state-run press agency.

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