Yesterday, the BBC News Service’s Twitter feed provided first-hand accounts from those who were on Tiananmen Square the night of June 3 to June 4—when the People’s Liberation Army gave the order to take back the Square “at all costs,” despite intellectuals like Liu Xiaobo mediating with the troops for the protesters’ safe withdrawl. The audio clips are haunting.

Twenty-five years later, a collective amnesia has set in as living standards have skyrocketed, educational opportunities seem more plentiful, and the enforced silence by the Chinese govenrment has compelled people to forget. And it seems to have worked, mostly.

Except for the 15 writers, scholars, lawyers, and activists who had gathered at the home of film professor Hao Jian to remember, all of whom were arrested and five remain detained.

Except for Hu Jia, who, at 15, took part in the protests at Tiananmen and is commemorating June 4 while under house arrest.

Except for Liao Yiwu, who spent years in prison after the crackdown for reciting his epic poem “Massacre” in a small town in Sichuan Province and is now in exile.

Except for Liu Xiaobo, who dedicated his 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Award to “the lost souls of Tiananmen.”

Except for Ding Zilin and the Tiananmen Mothers, who fight every day for the right to honor their dead sons and daughters.

Except for Liu Xia, who is reminded every day of the sacrifices her husband made to remember as she sits alone in the prison of her home.

Memory should never be a crime. We join our colleagues in China and around the world in commemorating the blossoming of freedom of expression on Tiananmen Square in May and June of 1989, and we join them in honoring those who continue in the footsteps of those who lost their lives that bloody night.

China must now release those who choose not to forget.

Commemorating the Massacre: The Tanks and the People, by Liao Yiwu
Experiencing Death, from June Fourth Elegies, by Liu Xiaobo
June 2nd, 1989, a poem by Liu Xia
The Poet in an Unknown Prison, by Liu Xia