August 1st, 2017 | Victims of Communism

Victims of Communism — Memorial Foundation

August 1st, 2017


Liu Xiaobo’s Widow Liu Xia “Taken Away From Beijing” By Police
Brian Kopczynski, THE TIMES
Friends of Liu Xia, widow of the dissident Liu Xiaobo who died last month in government custody, believe she has been taken away by the Chinese authorities out of fear that even under house arrest she would attract support. The Beijing flat in which Ms. Liu has been detained since 2010 appears empty from the outside. It is guarded by plainclothes police officers, who photograph reporters. Mr. Liu, who was awarded the Nobel peace prize while he was in prison in 2010, died of liver cancer on July 13, aged 61. The authorities had refused, despite international outcry, to allow him to have treatment overseas.

China Gripped By Censored Essay On Beijing
Kerry Allen, BBC
A candid opinion piece describing the growing difficulties of living in Beijing appears to have become the target of Chinese government censorship. The essay, entitled “Beijing has 20 million people pretending to have a life,” says industrialization, migration and rising costs mean that many people in the city merely survive from day to day, rather than enjoying life. It spread widely on social media in China after being published last week. Author Zhang Guochen has since issued an apology, though many people are saying he was coerced into this. Meanwhile, media reports have emerged stressing the positives of life in the Chinese capital and playing down the original piece. According to Sohu News more than seven million people read the article before it was deleted from his WeChat account. Users trying to access the article received a message saying it “cannot be displayed because it violates content regulations.” Posts that are critical of China and its governance are often targeted by government censors.

China Takes Tough Line On Sovereignty Amid Territorial Spats With Neighbors
Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping issued a tough line on national sovereignty Tuesday amid multiple territorial disputes with his country’s neighbors, saying China will never permit the loss of “any piece” of its land to outsiders. Xi’s declaration came during a nearly one-hour speech in Beijing marking the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army, which is the world’s largest standing military, with 2.3 million members, and has formed a key pillar of support for the ruling Communist Party since 1927. “We absolutely will not permit any person, any organization, any political party—at any time, in any form—to separate any piece of Chinese territory from China,” Xi said to applause. “No one should expect us to swallow the bitter fruit of damage to our sovereignty, security and development interests.” Xi made no reference to any specific conflicts or disputes during his address, which focused largely on the PLA’s growth from a scrappy guerrilla force fighting Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists and Japanese invaders into one of the world’s most powerful, if largely untested, militaries.


Cuba Denounces International Plot To Silence Venezuelan People
Cuba praised on Monday the election in Venezuela of a new legislative superbody and denounced what it called an international plot to suppress the will of the Venezuelan people in the wake of US sanctions on its key ally. “Cuba denounces the initiation of a well-orchestrated international operation, directed in Washington … to silence the voice of the Venezuelan people,” the government said in a statement published by state-run media. The US government slapped sanctions on Venezuelan President Maduro earlier on Monday in response to Sunday’s election, which it called a “sham.” Governments from Spain to Canada to Argentina and Peru joined Washington in denouncing the vote, which was boycotted by the opposition and widely seen as an affront to democracy. “We know well these interventionist practices,” the Cuban government said. Cuba said only the Venezuelan people could decide how to overcome their problems and reiterated its solidarity with them and their government.


North Koreans Risk Their Lives For United Nations Art Show
Carl Campanile, NEW YORK POST
In a stunning act of courage and defiance, four young North Korean artists are risking their safety by participating in a new exhibit at the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan this week, The Post has learned. The move comes just months after the UN slapped new sanctions on the Hermit Kingdom over its ongoing missile tests, and is so risky, the artists couldn’t put their names on the works, which are signed, “Anonymous.” “We don’t want to see any repercussions,” said Gloria Starr Kins, editor of the Society & Diplomatic Review, a UN-accredited publication, which is co-hosting the event. “There is courage with the North Korean artists there. It’s an important, yet delicate initiative.” The exhibit opens Friday. Nearly all artwork sanctioned in North Korea is done under strict government guidelines for propaganda purposes. But the artists defied Pyongyang by submitting their work without the approval of Kim Jong-un’s regime, in an effort to promote cross-cultural friendship.

North Korea Drought Threatens Famine And Instability
A new food crisis in North Korea has the potential to stir discontent among the country’s middle class, who still remember the four-year famine in the mid-1990s that the regime euphemistically refers to as the “Arduous March.” According to the South Korea-based Daily NK news website, the price of high-quality rice in the three key markets of Pyongyang, Sinuiju and Hyesan increased 10 percent in June alone. It was the third consecutive month in which the price of this staple foodstuff increased and there are reports of people stockpiling out of concern for what the future holds. “It has been reported that the North Korea government has recently cut the daily food ration for everyone,” Rah Jong Yil, a former head of South Korean intelligence, told DW. “And while things are not as bad as during the ‘Arduous March’ period, there are some very small signs of discontent with the regime,” he said. “There are more conversations among close friends who are asking if the regime is over-doing the threats against the international community.” The intelligence expert also said that it seems North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un is sensing discontent. “In one of his most recent speeches, he expressed his ‘contrite heart’ for not meeting all the demands of the people,” Rah said. “He has also called on people to ‘tighten their belts for the sake of the revolution,’ suggesting that food shortages are on the horizon.”

North Korea ICBM Test Longest In History Of Regime, Pentagon Says
Lucas Tomlinson, FOX NEWS
The Pentagon on Monday said North Korea’s latest intercontinental ballistic missile test was the longest such test in the history of the rogue regime. While many specifics of the North Korean ICBM launch remain classified, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said the North Korean flight on Friday was the dictatorship’s most advanced attempt so far.  When asked by Fox News if it was the longest in history, Davis would only reply with a terse, “Yes.” The North Korean missile flew for about 45 minutes—five minutes longer than what the Pentagon now calls the KN-20 ICBM, which was launched July 4. Officials believe the same type of missile was launched Friday. Missile experts calculated that the North Korean ICBM launched on Friday flew 2,300 miles into space, about 600 miles higher than the July 4 ICBM flew.


White House Sanctions Venezuelan President Maduro After “Farce” Election
The White House slapped sanctions on Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro Monday for his “outrageous seizure of power.” “Maduro is not just a bad leader. He is now a dictator,” said President Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly. The sanctions freeze all assets that Maduro has in the US and prohibits Americans from any dealings with the Venezuelan president. The move comes after Maduro’s regime went through with a highly controversial vote on Sunday that the White House calls a “farce” and a “sham.” Venezuelans were asked to vote to replace the current legislature with a “Constituent Assembly” that would be more loyal to Maduro. The new assembly is expected to redo the country’s constitution. “By sanctioning Maduro, the United States makes clear our opposition to the policies of his regime,” US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday. Mnuchin declined to say if Maduro has any assets left in the US. The move is largely symbolic. Experts say it won’t hurt Venezuela’s economy, but it is still only the fourth time the United States has placed sanctions on a head of state.

Pence: Administration Policy Is “America First,” Not “America Alone”
Julia Manchester, THE HILL
Vice President Mike Pence looked to reassure NATO allies on his trip to Eastern Europe on Sunday, saying President Trump’s “America first” policies are not meant to isolate US allies. “President Trump sent me to eastern Europe with a very simple message, that is America first doesn’t mean America alone,” Pence said in an interview with Fox News during a stop in Tallinn, Estonia. “Our message to the Baltic states, my message when we visit Georgia and Montenegro will be the same. To our allies in Eastern Europe, we are with you, we stand with you on behalf of freedom,” he continued. Pence’s visit comes as tensions between NATO member states and Russia continue to rise. He arrived in Estonia on Sunday to showcase support for NATO allies in the Baltic region and Eastern Europe. It also comes as Trump prepares to sign legislation that would slap brand new sanctions on Russia.

Trump Plan On China May Come As Soon As This Week
Andrew Restuccia & Josh Dawsey, POLITICO
President Donald Trump’s top advisers are huddling behind the scenes in a bid to craft a set of economic measures meant to punish China, two administration officials told POLITICO. Trump’s aides met over the weekend and will continue the discussions on Monday, with a final decision expected as soon as this week, the officials said. They said there are a range of options on the table, including trade restrictions. Other possibilities include economic sanctions. But the officials said it’s too early to say what the president might decide. The escalating situation in North Korea, including Friday’s latest intercontinental ballistic missile test, has heightened the urgency of crafting a cogent China strategy. The president believes China is not doing enough to stop North Korea from building a nuclear weapon that could strike US soil—and he has long complained, both in public and in private, that the Chinese are engaging in unfair trade practices.


Police Take Two Venezuela Opposition Leaders From their Homes In the Middle Of The Night
Michael Weissenstein, THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE
Two of Venezuela’s leading opposition figures were taken from their homes in the middle of the night by state security agents on Tuesday, in President Nicolas Maduro’s first moves against his enemies since a widely denounced vote giving his government nearly unlimited powers. The wife of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez posted what appeared to be video of him being taken from their home after midnight. “They’ve just taken Leopoldo from the house,” Lilian Tintori wrote on Twitter. “We don’t know where he is or where they’re taking him.” Allies of former Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma posted video online of a man who appeared to be the opposition leader being taken by state security as a woman screams for help for neighbors. “They’re taking Ledezma!” she cries. “It’s a dictatorship!”

What’s Next? New Venezuela Assembly Has Vast Powers
Christine Armario, ABC NEWS
The newly elected assembly that will rewrite Venezuela’s constitution will have nearly unlimited legal power to install an even more staunchly socialist state, but its very creation has spawned opposition at home and abroad that threatens to deepen the country’s political and economic crisis. The 545 delegates elected on Sunday are expected to convene within 72 hours after the official results are announced, which could come early this week. Because the opposition boycotted what it considered a rigged election, virtually all the delegates are loyalists. Many speculate they will choose Diosdado Cabello, the hardline leader of the ruling socialist party, as their chairman. President Nicolás Maduro made clear in a televised address Saturday that he intends to use the assembly not just to rewrite the country’s charter but to govern as “a power that’s above and beyond every other.” He said he wants the assembly to strip opposition lawmakers and governors of constitutional immunity from prosecution—one of the few remaining checks on ruling party power.

Venezuela’s Attorney General: “This Is The End Of Freedom Of Expression”
Flora Charner, Patrick Gillespie & Holly Yan, CNN
Venezuela’s attorney general lambasted Sunday’s election, which established a new legislative body made up entirely of President Nicolás Maduro’s supporters. “This is the end of freedom of expression, and this freedom has been battered for some time now,” Attorney General Luisa Ortega said Monday. “This is a smokescreen to hide the corruption and crisis that Venezuela faces. But they will have to climb over the institution that I represent, the people of Venezuela and our constitution.” But that constitution is now in jeopardy. Early Monday morning, Maduro declared a victory in a vote that much of the world—and many of his own citizens—have called a sham and an assault on democracy. The election replaced the current legislative body, the National Assembly, with a new, 545-member Constituent Assembly, all nominated by his administration. The new pro-Maduro assembly will have the power to rewrite Venezuela’s constitution.


Vietnam Has Arrested Four More Dissidents As Crackdown On Opposition Intensifies
Kevin Lui, TIME
Vietnam’s communist government intensified its recent crackdown over the weekend with the arrest of four dissidents accused of trying to overthrow the one-party state’s leadership. The latest arrests come amid a wave of repression targeting activists, bloggers and rights lawyers following a change in leadership last year, Agence France-Presse reports. The four detainees—prominent dissidents Pham Van Troi and Nguyen Bac Truyen, writer Truong Minh Duc and Protestant pastor Nguyen Trung Ton—were apprehended at their homes Sunday, AFP reports citing their respective wives. While all had previously been convicted and jailed over anti-state charges, they now stand accused of attempting to “overthrow the people’s administration,” a much more serious charge that can sometimes carry the death penalty.