"Individual rights and freedom are protected by the Chinese constitution, but in practice they are not," said Jonathan Cao, president of the Chinese Coalition for Citizens' Rights. "The Chinese government seems to be above the law."
Activists carried banners bearing messages like "China tear down this great firewall." Others carried signs displaying images of Liu Xiaobo, a high-profile dissident in China sentenced to 11 years imprisonment for co-authoring Charter 08. which called for democratization and political reform in China.
"We need to raise [the] awareness of every Chinese citizen," Cao said. "They don't need to live like slaves. They need to understand their rights and fight for them."
The event was co-organized by Cao and Ann Noonan, president of the New York Visual Artists Guild.
Noonan said the event was organized to create a voice for "prisoners of conscience" in China.
"We're here to memorialize the 70 million lives that perished and the 450 million unborn children who were not allowed to live under the PRC's government," she said.
Baiqiao Tang, the chair of the China Peace and Democracy Federation and a participant in the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, said the rally was not just about remembering those who died under the repression of the Chinese government, but for pushing for more freedoms in China today.
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