IAPL report

(Washington)—The Chairs of the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), today issued a statement on the 34th anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre and announced formally their 2023 Nobel Peace Prize nomination of Peng Lifa (also known as “Bridge Man”), citizen-journalist Zhang Zhan, and Li Kangmeng, one of the key figures of the “White Paper Protests.” Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Representative James P. McGovern (D-MA) joined the Chairs in nominating the trio for the prize. The CECC is composed of commissioners from both the legislative and executive branches.

“We commemorate the Tiananmen tragedy each year because it is too important to forget and too dangerous to commemorate in China and now even in Hong Kong. We salute those who bravely protested 34 years ago today and honor the memory of those who lost their lives when the tanks rolled through the streets of Beijing in 1989. We call on the Chinese authorities to give a full account of all those killed, detained, or gone missing in connection with the peaceful protests in Tiananmen Square and in over 400 other cities in China. We must continue to remember the Tiananmen Massacre and never allow the Chinese Communist Party to erase it from the history books.

“Today’s anniversary reminds us again to never conflate the people of China with the Chinese Communist Party. The Chinese people’s desire for freedom lives on, despite waves of repression, atrocities, and abuse. Because the desire for rights and reform still burns in the hearts of the Chinese people, we decided to nominate Peng Lifa, Zhang Zhan, and Li Kangmeng for the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize. Like the Tiananmen protesters before them, these individuals peacefully pressed Chinese leaders to recognize and respect human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Chinese Constitution. Instead of meeting those requests with transparency and debate, Chinese authorities used their massive police power to censor and jail. These heroes should be honored by the world for their courage and the international community must demand their unconditional release.

“On this day of remembrance, we honor the memory of the Tiananmen Massacre by standing with all those in China peacefully seeking freedom. We pay tribute to this momentous day by continuing to expose atrocities and other egregious human rights abuses in China and holding Chinese officials accountable for their crimes against humanity. Because so many in China are unable to speak for themselves, we promise to speak up in their defense, support peaceful efforts to promote human rights in China, and seek the release of political prisoners from arbitrary detention. The people of China must know that the free world will never forget their courage or sacrifice.”

Information on 2023 Nobel Peace Prize Nominees:

Peng Lifa went missing after displaying banners on a bridge in Beijing to protest the harsh zero-COVID policies. He also called for freedom of information, political reform, and genuine elections. After Peng’s disappearance, numerous mass protests took place in multiple locations across China to support his demands.

Li Kangmeng, a university student based in Nanjing, was reportedly the first person to hold up a blank sheet of white paper to protest the zero-COVID policies and underscore pervasive censorship in China. Her act of defiance inspired many others to adopt the blank sheet of paper as a form of protest, giving rise to what came to be known as the “White Paper Movement.”

Zhang Zhan, a citizen-journalist, was forcibly disappeared as a result of her reporting of the COVID-19 outbreak on social media platforms. She was later sentenced to four years of imprisonment under the criminal offense of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.”

Additional case information on the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize nominees can be found on the CECC’s searchable Political Prisoner Database. The database contains 2,506 active cases of detention in China, referring to political and religious prisoners currently known or believed to be detained or imprisoned, or under coercive controls.

A bipartisan group of current and former CECC Chairs also nominated Jimmy Lai, Cardinal Zen, Tonyee Chow, Gwyneth Ho, Joshua Wong and Lee Cheuk-yan for the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize. Additional case information on Hong Kong political prisoners and the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize nominees can be found on the CECC’s website.