A month ahead of the 20th anniversary of China's notorious Tiananmen Square massacre, some of the world's key Chinese Christian leaders have come together to release an unprecedented statement calling for forgiveness, repentance, truth, justice and reconciliation.
In the "Declaration of Chinese Christians," more than 80 Chinese Christian leaders from China, America and around the world recalled the tragedy that took place on June 4, 1989, when Chinese government soldiers crushed dissent around Tiananmen Square, killing hundreds and possibly thousands of peaceful protesters.
"This was an open display to both God and man the viciousness and hypocrisy of a tyrannical political system, and the deepest sin and darkness of man," the leaders stated.
Signatories of the five-page manifesto include Bob Fu, president and founder of ChinaAid; Xu Jie, one of three China house church leaders who met with then President Bush at the White House a few years ago; and Zhang Boli, pastor of a church in Virginia who was a student activist leader at the time of the Tiananmen Square massacre.
As many of the leaders, themselves, were connected in some way to the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, which began on April 14 and escalated in May, they felt obligated to serve as "the voice crying out for justice."
In their joint statement, the leaders lamented over how the government has been covering up or distorting evidence from the tragedy over the past 20 years and how the incident is being lost among today's young Chinese people as a result.
"No matter how much wealth has been accumulated and how vibrant the economy has been in the past 20 years, the memory of the June 4 tragedy, the related suppression, and the oblivion towards the atrocities all continue to repress and distort the soul of Chinese people," the leaders stated.
"At the 20th anniversary of the June 4 Incident, we wish to reflect with a repentant heart, and we yearn to make this appeal to all Chinese Christian churches around the globe: We sincerely urge all Chinese Christian churches, within China and overseas, to pray for the salvation of lost souls in our home country, for social justice and for the future of our race," they added.
The leaders concluded by urging for churches to make June 4 a "Pray for China" day and to hold special prayer meetings throughout the period.
They also urged Chinese authorities to investigate the massacre, fully disclose the truth, find the perpetrator, commemorate the massacre, and compensate and care for the victims' families.
Though the official death toll from the June 4 incident was reported by the Chinese government to be around 241, Chinese student associations reported the figure to be between 2,000 and 3,000. Some independent groups even placed the figure as high as 7,000.
Between April 15 and June 4, approximately 100,000 Chinese citizens – the majority of which were university students – had gathered in Beijing's famous Tiananmen Square to hold peaceful protests for free media and formal dialogue between authorities and student-elected representatives.
The massacre that concluded the protests was widely condemned around the world.