Tiananmen Square Massacre — Twenty-seventh Anniversary

Honourable senators, each year at this time, I remind the house of the horrible things which took place in Tiananmen Square on June 3 and 4, 1989. What took place was a massacre. I know what happened. I was there.

But if you live in China today, you wouldn’t know anything happened. Why? Because the Chinese government has erased that memory. Officially it never happened.

It doesn’t want its population to know that a million people marched on Chang’an Avenue through the heart of Beijing — ordinary Chinese students, teachers, doctors, labourers, moms and dads, children.

What did they want? They just wanted a voice on how they were governed. They weren’t in the square to topple a government. They were exercising a human right — the right to free speech.

Yesterday, honourable senators, we heard in this city the authoritarian voice of today’s China. Little has changed since 1989. In fact, I would argue human rights have gotten worse. Yesterday, we heard China’s foreign minister lash out at a Canadian reporter for daring to ask about human rights in China. Here are the words of Wang Yi:

Your question is full of prejudice and against China. . . . This is totally unacceptable.

. . . don’t ask questions in such an irresponsible manner.

Do you know China has written protection and promotion of human rights into our constitution?

Mr. Wang Yi, I have more questions for you: Why do you keep throwing into prison people who just want to exercise a basic human right of free speech, not to mention a free press?

I’m only going to mention one dissident here. He is Liu Xiaobo, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, who is languishing in Jinzhou Prison in Liaoning Province.

Mr. Foreign Minister, what is Mr. Liu’s crime? Is it because, as he said:

Simply for expressing divergent political views and taking part in a peaceful and democratic movement, a teacher lost his podium, a writer lost the right to publish and a public intellectual lost the chance to speak publicly. This was a sad thing, both for myself as an individual and, after three decades of reform and opening, for China.

Those are the words of Mr. Liu.

Mr. Foreign Minister, Mr. Liu is serving an 11-year prison term. Why are you so afraid? Why does your government keep imprisoning so many of your citizens?

Mr. Foreign Minister, I remember everything I saw in Tiananmen Square in 1989. I will never forget. I will keep asking questions. I owe it to the families of those whose children were killed in and around Tiananmen.

Honourable senators, it is ironic in a country like Canada where free speech is allowed that the foreign minister chastised a Canadian reporter for asking a simple question on free speech and about human right abuses in China. If a similar question was asked in Beijing today about Tiananmen in 1989, here is the question, Mr. Foreign Minister, I have for you: What would happen to that reporter? I shudder to think of the consequences.

Thank you, honourable senators.