LRF director Harry Wu and staff attended the ceremony marking the fifth anniversary of the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington, DC. Harry was accompanied by the eight Tibetan former political prisoners who had flown in from India and New York to speak at this week’s LRF conference on Tibet. In honor of China’s Laogai prisoners and the Communist Party’s victims throughout its brief but bloody history, Harry and the Tibetans laid flowers at the foot of the memorial statue, a bronze replica of the Goddess of Democracy erected by the soon-to-be-massacred student protestors in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Following a moment of silence, VOC Memorial Foundation Chairman Lee Edwards opened the ceremony with a speech noting the importance of education and perseverance against the persistence of the few remaining Communist regimes. He also emphasized the foundation’s bipartisanship.
Ambassadors from of the former Communist countries of Albania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, and Ukraine laid wreaths of flowers in the colors of their flags, in addition to representatives from the Republic of China (Taiwan), Tibetans from ICT, and exiles from the still-Communist countries of North Korea, Vietnam, and Belarus.
Among the speakers was Annette Lantos (pictured above), chair of the Lantos Foundation and wife of the late Hungarian-American congressman, Holocaust survivor, and human rights champion, Tom Lantos (D-CA-12). She spoke about her husband’s legacy and the hardship her family endured in Communist Hungary. She stressed the fact that everyone has a right to freedom and a duty to protect the freedom of others.
Tibetan Laogai survivor Ghang Lhamo (pictured above) made the following speech:
Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, on behalf of those standing here with me, I thank you for hosting this important event. We gather here to remember Communism’s countless victims; however, we must not forget about those who have yet to know freedom.
We, like Mr. Harry Wu, know firsthand the horrors of Communism. At the hands of our supposed liberators, we have each suffered and endured torture in China’s Laogai. What were our crimes? We voiced our support for His Holiness the Dalai Lama; we protested for his return to Tibet; we asked for freedom. Yet our peaceful protests were met with swift and violent crackdowns now only seen in countries ruled by despots.
Today, we humbly ask the world to stop turning a blind eye to the plight of people suffering under communism. This problem may seem daunting; however, we believe that if all countries that stand for freedom and human rights banded together, achieving true freedom would only be a matter of time. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said it best: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The situation in Tibet is no different. Thank you.
Other speakers included former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Vietnamese Boat People refugee Anhthu Lu, and Women’s Rights Without Frontiers president Reggie Littlejohn (pictured below).
Instrumental in making known to the world the recent plight of blind Chinese lawyer Chen Guangcheng, who defended victims of China’s One Child Policy (OCP). Littlejohn spoke about human rights abuse in China (transcript here). She pointed out that 500 women kill themselves a day in China, which is the only country where the suicide rate is higher for women than for men. She identified the reason as the OCP, whereby paid informants identify pregnant women to be captured by police for full-term forced abortions and sterilizations, and charged for the operation.
Almost all Chinese women of childbearing age must monitor their personal lives to make sure they do not conceive a second child, for fear that they will be identified and have to undergo a forced abortion – some operations so botched that they result in infections and injuries. It is true that the OCP has made women as only children receive educations, career opportunities and inheritances that they would not receive if they had brothers. However, a preference for boys and the ineffectiveness of a law banning sex-identifying ultrasounds has resulted in an estimated 50 million “missing girls”. The current male-to-female ratio in China is 120:100, producing 30 million more men of marriageable age than women by 2020, leading to an increase in sex trafficking and rape of women, as well as lack of families, depression, and gang activity for men. The benefits to women listed above do not outweigh their need as infants to survive sex-selective abortion and infanticide, and as adults to survive an increase in rape, sex trafficking and infections, injuries, and suicides from forced abortions. For those Chinese daughters who survive sex-selective abortion, life may better in terms of education, career and inheritance, except for the day that they discover they’re pregnant and actually desire a new addition to their family as women in the rest of the world so often do. It is fitting that this monument is of the female Goddess of Democracy, as the women of China are today’s most numerous victims of Communism.
In honor of the Chinese people, LRF congratulates the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation on the fifth anniversary of its memorial in DC. We hope that the flowers laid and the speeches made there this week will educate the US and the world about the cruelty of Communist China, and that China’s suffering population will take hope from this show of support from the United States capital.
See the Victims of Communism report on the ceremony here.