Twenty years ago, on June 4, 1989, tanks rolled into Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to suppress an estimated 100,000 peaceful protesters. The Chinese military killed perhaps thousands of civilians. More than 10,000 Chinese citizens from all over the country later were sentenced to death, according to the U.S.-based Christian organization ChinaAid. To mark the 20th anniversary, 80 Chinese Christian leaders, many of whom were student leaders in the Tiananmen pro-democracy movement, issued a statement calling for repentance, truth, and reconciliation.
“We have received the great love of God’s salvation,” declared the leaders. “It is precisely this love that makes it impossible for us to forget the tragedy.” They describe the massacre as having “rocked our souls,” “awakened our sense of social justice as intellectuals,” and “showed us the sins of tyranny.”
“The massacre brought much pain, which led many involved in the Tiananmen movement to salvation in Christ, including myself,” Bob Fu, president of ChinaAid and a drafter of the declaration, told Sojourners. Despite China’s unprecedented economic growth over the last 20 years, said Fu, the progress of fundamental human rights in China is close to zero. —Kaitlin Barker