Press Releases

Sep 22, 2015

Newseum Displays Chinese Protest Banners During President Xi’s Visit to Washington, D.C.

Museum Will Offer Daily Programs on Free Expression, Human Rights and Religious Liberty as Part of Freedom Week

WASHINGTON — Today, the Newseum displays a series of banners on the front of its building at Pennsylvania Avenue and Sixth Street that call on the Chinese government to respect basic human rights and release journalists and dissidents currently imprisoned by the government. The banners were produced in partnership with international human rights and journalism organizations, which provided the powerful slogans.

The banners will be on display during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Washington later this week. They can be seen on the front of the Newseum, next to the 74-foot-tall marble etching of the 45 words of the First Amendment.

The graphics were illustrated by a Chinese calligrapher. The slogans include “Release Human Rights Defenders in China,” “Long Live Freedom, Long Live Democracy,” “Lift Restrictions, Free the Press,” and “Chinese Government Should Respect Human Rights.”

In front of the museum, photos of journalists and dissidents who are currently imprisoned by China’s government fill the cases normally reserved for the museum’s Today’s Front Pages exhibit.

Inside the Newseum, a bronze reproduction of the “Goddess of Democracy” statue, a powerful icon of the 1989 pro-democracy movement led by students in China, is on display. The statue stood for just five days before being toppled by Chinese armed forces clearing protesters from Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Hundreds of protesters were killed.

The prominent displays are one element of what the Newseum is calling “Freedom Week,” a six-day series of programs and panel discussions covering a range of international issues from religious persecution to the wrongful imprisonment of journalists. The museum, which works to champion the five freedoms of the First Amendment, is a popular destination prominently located halfway between the U.S. Capitol and the White House, where President Xi will attend a state dinner on Friday evening.

“Freedom Week highlights our strong belief that all people should be able to speak truth to power without fear of government retribution,” said Jeffrey Herbst, president and CEO of the Newseum. “While the banners on the front of our building are temporary, the freedoms that permit their display are permanent, universal and are a fundamental human right.”

“This week highlights our ongoing efforts to call the world’s attention to the threats faced by journalists, human rights activists and others who work to bring information and freedom to those living under repressive governments,” said Gene Policinski, COO of the Newseum Institute, the programs and outreach partner of the Newseum.

Throughout the week, the Newseum will host daily public programs in its Knight TV Studio featuring experts on a range of topics related to free expression, journalism and human rights. On Thursday, Sept. 24, the Newseum will host a panel discussion on U.S.-China relations featuring Winston Lord, the former U.S. ambassador to China, and Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. All Freedom Week programs will be streamed live on and are free and open to the public with advance registration. Click here for a complete list of programs and information on how to register.

About the Freedom Forum Institute

The Freedom Forum Institute is the education and outreach partner of the Freedom Forum and the Newseum. The Institute includes the First Amendment Center, the Religious Freedom Center, the Newseum’s education department and diversity and inclusion programs. The Freedom Forum Institute’s affiliate organizations include the Al Neuharth Media Center at the University of South Dakota; the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at the University of Mississippi; and the John Seigenthaler Center at Vanderbilt University. The Freedom Forum Institute is a 501(c)(3) public charity funded by generous individuals, corporations and foundations, including its principal funder, the Freedom Forum.

Press Contacts

Jonathan Thompson
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