August 9th, 2017 | Victims of Communism

Victims of Communism — Memorial Foundation

August 9th, 2017


The Contradictory World Of Chinese Journalism
Earlier this year, The New York Times reported that Yang Jisheng, a former senior journalist for China’s main state-owned news agency, Xinhua, was forbidden from traveling to Harvard to accept an award for his book on the famine induced by Chairman Mao’s policies in the late 1950s. While China’s cultural policies have become more repressive since the current chairman, Xi Jinping, took power, there is still a certain irony to this. The Nieman Fellows, who decide on the award, regularly include Chinese journalists. In fact, one of the 2014 fellows was a former Xinhua journalist. Xinhua continues to attract some of the best graduates of China’s rapidly expanding journalism schools. Many professors at these schools are liberals who teach their students the same standards of journalism as their colleagues in the West, often using some of the same textbooks translated into Chinese. Academics such as these have been targeted in the recent government crackdown on spreading “Western theories” in higher education. Hu Zhanfan, the previous president of CCTV, the main state-owned broadcaster, reportedly said that journalists who thought of themselves as professionals, instead of as propaganda workers, “are making a fundamental mistake about their identity.”

China Orders Businesses To Close, Sets Up Checkpoints Ahead Of BRICS Summit
Authorities in the southeastern Chinese city of Xiamen have ordered small guesthouses to stop taking in guests in a city-wide security operation ahead of a new Silk Road summit in September, local residents told RFA on Tuesday. Police in Xiamen, which will hold the ninth summit of large developing BRICS countries—Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa—from Sept. 3-5, have ordered business owners to put such businesses on hold until well after the meeting, a guesthouse employee said.

Talks Are Only Way For India, China To End Standoff, Dalai Lama Says
India and China will have to resolve their prolonged military standoff in a remote Himalayan region through talks, the Dalai Lama said on Wednesday, ruling out the chance of war because it would be destructive to both parties. Indian and Chinese troops have been embroiled in a seven-week confrontation on the Doklam plateau, claimed by both China and India’s tiny ally, Bhutan. The Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in India after fleeing a failed uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet, said there would be no victors in a war and talks were the only option. “This century should be a century of dialogue,” the Nobel peace laureate said in the Indian capital. “One-side victory, one-side defeat is old thinking. Destruction of your neighbor is destruction of yourself. The only way is through talks.” Indian troops went into Doklam in mid-June to stop a Chinese construction crew from extending a road India’s military says will bring China’s army too close for comfort in the northeast. Beijing has demanded India leave the area, and low-key talks between the neighbors have produced no breakthrough, raising fears the two could stumble into a conflict.

Quake In China’s Sichuan Kills 19, Including Tourists; Injures 247
A 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck a remote, mountainous part of China’s southwestern province of Sichuan, killing 19 people, including eight tourists, and injuring 247, the provincial government and official media said on Wednesday. The quake hit a sparsely populated area 200 km (120 miles) northwest of the city of Guangyuan late on Tuesday at a depth of 10 km (6 miles), the US Geological Survey said. It was also close to the Jiuzhaigou nature reserve, a tourist destination. Sichuan is frequently struck by tremors. A huge quake there in May 2008 killed almost 70,000 people. A separate quake of magnitude 6.6 hit a remote part of China’s far northwestern region of Xinjiang, more than 2,000 km (1,240 miles) away, on Wednesday, the Chinese earthquake administration said. The People’s Daily said 32 people had been injured in the mostly rural area. The Sichuan government said rescuers were gradually evacuating tourists and residents who had been cut off by landslides.


Cuban Graffiti Artists Bring Social Critique To Havana’s Walls
The graffiti of alien-like beings and balaclava-clad men appearing on Havana’s dilapidated walls strikes a contrast with the upbeat political slogans and effigies of Cuban revolutionaries. For a handful of young Cuban artists, these illicit creations are a means of touching on social issues in a coded way, ranging from fear of expressing oneself freely in public to growing materialism on the Communist-run island. Graffiti was until recently uncommon in Cuba’s tightly controlled public spaces. Its emergence reflects greater scope for critical expression under President Raul Castro and increasing influence of international culture as the country slowly opens. Like Cuba’s young bloggers, who are pushing the boundaries of what has been allowed in the media by starting news websites, its graffiti artists do not consider themselves dissidents and have been mostly tolerated by authorities. “I want to create a social conscience with my work, an awareness about what we are turning into,” said Yulier Rodriguez, whose alien-like creatures often look malformed, with limbs protruding from heads, and malnourished. “A large part of society is going down a dark path,” said the 27-year old, criticizing Cuba’s ailing, Soviet-style economy that forces Cubans to turn to illegal activities to get by. One of Cuba’s first prominent graffiti artists, Danilo Maldonado, emigrated to Miami in January.

Is Cuba Really Pulling The Strings In Venezuela?
Nothing happens without Havana and Washington. Cuba and the United States are fighting a new cold war in Venezuela. Both are cooperating with President Nicolas Maduro’s government, but in different ways. It is a paradox directly linked to Venezuela’s oil resources—one that has only served to strengthen President Nicolas Maduro’s power. Despite tightening sanctions against the government in Caracas, Washington continues to import some 750,000 barrels of Venezuelan oil each day. The Chamber of Commerce estimates that the US imported a total of $10 billion (8.5 billion euros) worth of oil from Venezuela in 2016. Although that amount is roughly one-third less than it imported in 2015, the US remains the world’s largest purchaser of Venezuelan oil. Cuba, too, is dependent upon Venezuela’s vast petroleum resources. In return for subsidized oil—40,000 barrels a day—Havana sends doctors, intelligence officials and diplomats to Caracas. President Maduro’s bodyguards are also from Cuba.


Why North Korea Threatened Guam, The Tiny US Territory With Big Military Power
North Korea is reviewing plans to strike US military targets in Guam with its medium-range ballistic missiles to create “enveloping fire,” according to state media. The message came hours after President Trump warned North Korea that it will be “met with fire and fury and, frankly, power, the likes of which this world has never seen before” if the country does not stop threatening the United States. The threats follow a unanimous vote by the UN Security Council to impose strict new sanctions on North Korea. North Korea’s state media have often warned of strikes against the United States, but the threats are usually vague and do not typically include targets this specific, the Wall Street Journal said. That Kim Jong-un is eyeing Guam, the sovereign US territory with a strategic airfield and naval station, is no surprise to the 160,000 Guamanians on the island.

North Korea Releases Canadian Pastor Hyeon Soo Lim
Will Ripley, CNN
A Canadian pastor imprisoned in North Korea has been freed after two and a half years in detention. Hyeon Soo Lim, North Korea’s longest-held western prisoner in decades, was “released on sick bail” Wednesday by the country’s top court for “humanitarian” reasons, state-run news agency KCNA said. Lim’s son, James Lim, received word over the weekend that a plane carrying senior Canadian officials, a medical doctor, and a letter to North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un was dispatched to Pyongyang “at the last minute,” according to family spokeswoman Lisa Pak. The plane landed in the North Korean capital Monday. Lim was serving a life sentence of hard labor after being convicted of crimes against the state in December 2015. The 62-year-old’s health has deteriorated while in North Korean custody and the pastor has experienced “dramatic” weight loss, Pak said.


Ukraine Plans To Abrogate Agreement With Russia On Interaction In Military Exports
Volodymyr Petrov, KYIV POST
Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers is planning to abrogate the existing agreement with Russia on the interaction between the two countries in exports of military goods to third countries at its meeting on August 9. The agenda for the meeting published on the government website implies that it is also planned to consider the approval of the agreement between Ukraine and the North Atlantic Alliance on the support and deliveries, and on the partnership in the joint management of supply items. The government is also planning to consider some personnel matters at the meeting.


Guam Reacts To North Korea Threat With Faith In US Military
Chloe Babauta, USA TODAY
As North Korea threatened a ballistic missile strike on the US territory of Guam, residents expressed concern Wednesday. “The threat is pretty scary,” said Graceful Fiden, 28, of Tumon, Guam. “It’s going on further, so we should worry about it.” But, he said, “I believe in the military on Guam, together with the US.” The US Air Force has said that members of the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, deployed to Guam from Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota are ready to “fight tonight” from Guam. During a 10-hour mission from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, on Monday, two B-1s were joined by Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-15s as well as Republic of Korea Air Force KF-16 fighter jets. The offices of Guam Homeland Security and Civil Defense issued a news release Wednesday morning saying they were working with military officials to “continue to monitor the recent events surrounding North Korean and their threatening actions.” The release stated that there is no imminent threat to the safety of Guam’s 160,000 residents and visitors of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).

Trump Appears To Grant China Banks Sanctions Reprieve After UN Deal
The Trump administration appears to be granting Chinese banks dealing with North Korea a temporary reprieve from threatened US sanctions to give Beijing time to show it is serious about enforcing new UN steps against Pyongyang, US officials said. The White House has also held off on much-anticipated trade action against China after Beijing backed UN Security Council sanctions passed on Saturday, although it is unclear how long President Donald Trump will delay this given domestic pressures to make good on campaign promises to crack down on unfair trade practices. Washington has made clear it is reluctant, for the moment, to take steps that would antagonize China when its cooperation is needed to tighten the screws on its ally and neighbor North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs.


Venezuela’s New Assembly Declares Itself All-Powerful
Joshua Goodman and Fabiola Sanchez, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
The new constitutional assembly assumed even more power in Venezuela by declaring itself as the superior body to all other governmental institutions, including the opposition-controlled congress. That decree came Tuesday just hours after the assembly delegates took control of a legislative chamber and put up pictures of the late President Hugo Chavez, who installed Venezuela’s socialist system. Delcy Rodriguez, the head of the ruling socialist party and leader of the body, said the unanimously approved decree prohibits lawmakers in congress from taking any action that would interfere with laws passed by the newly installed constitutional assembly. “We are not threatening anyone,” said Aristobulo Isturiz, the constitutional assembly’s first vice president. “We are looking for ways to coexist.” Leaders of congress, which previously voted not to recognize any of the new super-body’s decrees, said lawmakers would try to meet in the gold-domed legislative palace Wednesday, but there were questions whether security officers guarding the building would let them in.

Venezuela’s New Assembly Creates “Truth Commission”
Venezuela’s controversial constituent assembly has passed a law creating a “truth commission.” The head of the assembly said the law was a “powerful instrument to stifle violence, hatred and intolerance.” More than 120 people have been killed in the violence since anti-government protests began sweeping through the country on 1 April. The government blames right-wing “terrorists” but the UN suggests dozens were killed by the security forces. The law was passed unanimously by the constituent assembly, a body convened by President Nicolás Maduro. The newly created truth commission will be lead by Delcy Rodríguez, who also heads the constituent assembly.

Venezuelan Eyewitness: “The Policeman Pointed His Gun And Shot Me”
Euronews has heard evidence of violence carried out by the security forces in Venezuela against journalists and protesters. One press worker said that during last weekend’s protests after the Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz was ousted, reporters were ambushed by the Bolivarian National Guard despite having identified themselves as reporters. The cameraman for the American network Telemundo says he was hit and injured by rubber bullets. “The police don’t like me to film them when one officer is stealing the wallet and earrings of an old woman being suffocated by tear gas thrown by them,” he said. The clampdown has been aided by gangs on motorbikes who have been seen roaming the streets looking for protesters. One young man who supports the resistance against President Maduro’s government claims he was shot in the face during recent clashes in Caracas. “I tried to dodge some obstacles and take cover from the policemen but then one of them—the one sitting in the back of the motorbike—saw me, pointed his gun at me and shot me five times with birdshot,” the 25-year-old university student—who didn’t want to be identified—told us.

As Maduro’s Venezuela Rips Apart, So Does His Military
Nicholas Casey and Ana Vanessa Herrero, THE NEW YORK TIMES
As Venezuela reels from a crippling economic crisis and deadly street protests, the military has often served as the guarantor of President Nicolás Maduro’s continued power over the country. But daring challenges to his rule in recent weeks have laid bare a split within the military that could ultimately determine the nation’s fate: a growing number of officers are openly breaking ranks with the president and taking up weapons. “They speak of resistance, now they think that the model is to use arms,” Cliver Alcalá, a retired Venezuelan general and government critic, says of those who have rebelled. Venezuela has a history of coups and attempted overthrows at times of crisis, and many in the country now wonder if this is one of those times. But the nation’s leaders are keenly aware of that, too, and as they face their greatest turmoil in years, they appear to have come prepared: The government has spent years ensuring that the military’s top commanders are deeply invested in the status quo. In a single day Mr. Maduro promoted 195 officers to the rank of general. Venezuelan generals, more than 2,000 strong, enjoy a range of privileges, from lucrative control of the food supply to favorable rates for exchanging dollars.