Acceptance Speech of Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom

Posted on Jun 13, 2013

Dr. Edwards, Distinguished Guests, and Dear Friends,

Thank you for giving me this Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom. I am honored even to be considered for an award that is named for the two great leaders of freedom, and humbled to be included in the same company as such leaders and heroes as the past recipients of this medal.

Dr. Edwards, I stand in awe of your wisdom, your tenacity, and your passion which gave birth to the Victims of Communism Memorial. I salute you for your prophetic vision in the selection of the Goddess of Democracy as the icon for this memorial to more than 100 million victims of Communism, this insidious form of government that, in the words of  Charter 08,  strips ” people of their rights, destroys their dignity, and corrupts normal human intercourse”.  Dr. Edwards, you are indeed a conscience that keeps us sane in a world which could easily be characterized as its opposite.

In this world of moral ambiguity, human rights are the casualty of pragmatic diplomacy. So it is with China. It is a popular thinking in this city that, with China’s embrace of trade, democracy will follow in due course.  This is very naive thinking.  It is as naive as I was in 1989 in Tiananmen Square. Never did it enter my mind or the minds of my fellow students that any reasonable, legitimate government would turn on its citizens with such brutality.

As the legendary defender of freedom Congressman Tom Lantos said of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution in his dedication speech exactly six years ago, “the 1956 Revolution was not crushed, its victory was only delayed”, I stand here today, 24  years after Tiananmen, to tell you that democracy will and is coming to China. It will come through the continued struggle of  the people of China.

But we must be reminded that it will be extremely difficult for democracy come to China without the moral support from the international community.

Yes, communism was defeated in Europe and democracy prevailed over tyranny through the persistent will of people to be free.  But the defeat of communism in Europe was possible only through the equally persistent pressure from the Western democracies led by the United States. From the Truman doctrine to the Berlin Airlift to President Reagan’s “tear down the wall”, the brutality of communism in Europe had nowhere to hide in the eyes of the world.

But that is history. Today the Goddess of Democracy, that stood for one glorious moment in Tiananmen Square in early June, 1989 and stands here as the icon of the Victims of Communism memorial, tells the world that the scourge of Communism continues to plague a good part of this earth and a big portion of the world’s population and is a major patron of tyranny around the globe. This statue reminds us every day of the terrible costs of the communists’ rule in China. The CCP has conducted the cruelest theft of private property in the history of the world and has been responsible for the most bloody political turmoils, the most horrific starvation, and the greatest number of non-natural deaths including one million Tibetans and another one million Uyghurs. It has created the most numerous cases of injustice, and has perpetrated the most barbarous destruction of historic heritage, natural environment, and religious beliefs. The CCP has carried out the most notorious crackdown on a student movement, and it continues to produce the most widespread human rights violations and government corruption. The communist government that massacred its own citizens in the heart of its capital is the very same government who today continues to routinely imprison, torture, and exile its best citizens for no other reason than exercising the right to speak freely, who pursues cultural genocide on Tibetans, Uyghurs and Mongolians and religious purge on Christians and Falun Gong practitioners, andwhose foreign policies and models of repression enable the morally bankrupt regimes of North Korea, Iran, and Syria to suck the freedoms and dignities from their people.  Its paranoia and insecurity drive it to extend its tyranny beyond its borders.  Its disdain for human dignity now openly challenges the very foundation of civilization itself.

Let us learn from history. The fight for democracy and the end of communism is not just the right thing to do, but a necessary engagement required for our own survival and security. Let us not forget that the persistent pressure of the United States ultimately freed Europe from the scourge of communism and in so doing preserved our own democratic way of life.  We must apply that same tenacity with China.  For  China’s peaceful transition to democracy is not only in the interests of the people of China but also in the interests of a peaceful and stable world.

I will leave you with the words of the Norwegian Nobel Committee as it awarded Liu Xiaobo the 2010 Nobel Peace prize “The Norwegian Nobel Committee has long believed that there is a close connection between human rights and peace. Such rights are a prerequisite for the ‘fraternity between nations’ of which Alfred Nobel wrote in his will.”

I thank you again for this honor and dedicate this medal to all the victims of Chinese Communist Party and all those who seek to defend them.


Thank You.