February 16th, 2018 | Victims of Communism

Victims of Communism — Memorial Foundation

February 16th, 2018


Cambodian Opposition Party Members Face Charges For Political Activities Abroad
A Cambodian court is taking legal action against five top former opposition party lawmakers and officials for continuing to conduct political activities outside the country even though their party has been dissolved by the government. The Ministry of Interior filed a lawsuit with the court on Thursday against Sam Rainsy, former president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) and an elected member of parliament, lawmaker Tioulong Saumura, CNRP deputy presidents Eng Chhai Eang and Mu Sochua, and Kem Monovithya, senior public relations officer and daughter of jailed former CNRP leader Kem Sokha. Ly Sophanna, deputy prosecutor of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, told local media that judicial officials are proceeding with the case.

Rainsy Calls On Australia To Help “Resuscitate” Democracy In Cambodia
Erin Handley, The Phnom Penh Post
Self-exiled former opposition leader Sam Rainsy yesterday called on Australia to help “resuscitate” Cambodian democracy, while also noting that the island nation’s silence on increasing authoritarianism and the incarceration of its own citizens was likely due to its controversial refugee deal with the Kingdom. Rainsy yesterday told journalists at the National Press Club of Australia that the Kingdom needed Australia and other Western countries to put pressure on Hun Sen’s government to reverse his campaign of political repression. “The Cambodian people alone cannot resuscitate democracy in their country. Cambodia is too small and too vulnerable a country to be able to determine its own fate, as history has shown,” he said. “Cambodia is the weak point of the authoritarian bloc in Asia.”



Diplomats Visit Activists, Family Of Detained Lawyer Over Chinese New Year
Diplomats from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, and other countries have been visiting activists and dissidents’ families in and around the capital, including veteran rights activist Hu Jia, the wife of detained rights lawyer Yu Wensheng, and anti-eviction activist Ni Yulan. A group of diplomats visited Yu’s wife Xu Yan and the couple’s young son in the Beijing suburb of Shijingshan on Tuesday, Xu told RFA. “Some human rights representatives came to the office I rent with Yu Wensheng, to visit me and the child,” Xu said. “Four human rights officials came, one from the U.S., one from Germany, one from the Netherlands, and another from the Swedish embassy in Beijing.”

How China’s Multi-Pronged Crackdown On Dissent Took Aim At Citizen Journalists And Rights Defense Websites
Catherine Lai, HKFP
Before Xi Jinping took power, there was a network of netizens spreading information about their cases online, human rights lawyers helping them with their cases, mass media, big Vs (influential figures on social media) and rights platforms – all working together as part of an ecosystem. One by one, the government tightened its grip on the pillars which held up the ecosystem. Now, the networks no longer function together as they once did. Citizen-run platforms aggregated human rights-related information from across the country and provided an online space for dissidents to discuss their political views and exchange information in a climate of increasing government control over the media and the internet.

“Hurting The Feelings Of The Chinese People” Is Just A Way Of Registering State Displeasure
David Bandurski, HKFP
The German carmaker Mercedes-Benz issued a timorous apology last week on one of China’s largest social media networks, the latest in a string of international brands running afoul of politics and nationalist sentiment in China. The incident was ignited by an advertisement posted in English to the Mercedes-Benz account on Instagram, showing a white Mercedes sedan parked on an empty beach and featuring an inspirational quote from the Dalai Lama. In fact, “hurting the feelings of the Chinese people,” the phrase used by the carmaker has a long history within the Chinese Communist Party. The phrase first appeared in 1959 in the pages of the CCP’s flagship newspaper, the People’s Daily, the offense at that time being a border dispute between China and India.



Diplomats In Cuba Suffered Brain Injuries. Experts Still Don’t Know Why.
Gina Kolata, NYT
A group of American diplomats stationed in Havana appear to have symptoms of concussion without ever having received blows to their heads, medical experts have found. The diplomats originally were said to have been victims of a “sonic attack,” a possibility that the Federal Bureau of Investigation reportedly ruled out in January. The experts’ report, published late Wednesday in the journal JAMA, does not solve the mystery, instead raising even more questions about what could have caused the brain injuries. The incidents occurred in 2016, when 18 of the 21 affected diplomats reported they heard strange sounds in their homes or hotel rooms. The noises were loud and sounded like buzzing or grinding metal, or piercing squeals or humming, the diplomats recalled.

Trump’s Budget Includes Drastic Cuts To Radio And TV Martí
Nora Gámez Torres, Miami Herald
President Donald Trump’s recently released budget would drastically cut funds and staffing at the Miami-based Radio and TV Martí while restoring funds to support other democracy projects in Cuba and new ones in Venezuela. In 2017, the State Department presented to Congress a budget with zero financing for programs related to Cuba under its economic support and development fund. Aid to Venezuela was also slashed. The funds for Cuba democracy programs for the fiscal year 2019—which begins in October 2018 and ends in September 2019—is half of what President Barack Obama’s administration approved in 2016.



International Research Centre And Museum Of Crimes Of Communism To Be Established In Tallinn, Estonia
The Baltic Times
The Estonian Institute of Historical Memory has launched the preparation of an international research center and museum of crimes of communism in Tallinn, Estonia with the support of the government of Estonia and leading remembrance institutions in Germany, Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania. The ambition of these European institutions is to bring together a diverse international coalition of trusted regional and international experts, researchers and educators to secure the historical legacy of societies that faced communist regimes, to conduct fact-based, objective academic research and provide education in this field. This initiative is the first of its kind in the world.



All Eyes On North Korea
Jenna McLaughlin, Foreign Policy
With talk of a “bloody nose” strike against North Korea being debated in Washington, public attention has focused on conventional military preparations for a U.S. attack on Pyongyang. Less noticed, but possibly even more telling, is the surge in recent months of intelligence resources. Senior officials have made no secret of the fact that the administration is ramping up its intelligence capabilities to focus on the Korean Peninsula, but six sources familiar with U.S. planning described a nearly unprecedented scramble inside the agencies responsible for spying and cyber warfare.

Most North Koreans Can’t Actually Watch The Olympic Games
Choe Sang-hun, NYT
North Korea has 22 athletes competing in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, a South Korean town only 50 miles from its border. Can its people watch them and other Olympic Games on television? Technically, yes, because North Korea has free access to Olympic broadcasts. But its isolated people are unlikely to watch any broadcasts from Pyeongchang, said officials and North Korean defectors in the South. As of Friday, North Korea’s state-run television had broadcast none of the Games. “For the North Korean regime, there is no big incentive in reminding its people that the South lives well enough to host an Olympics,” said Lee Min-bok, a defector from North Korea.



Russia Blocks Navalny’s Website After He Refuses To Remove Videos About Kremlin-Connected Oligarch
Sabra Ayres, LA Times
Russia began blocking opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s website on Thursday after the country’s communications regulator threatened to shut down access to YouTube and Instagram if the social media sites did not remove the anti-corruption crusader’s posts on a Kremlin-connected oligarch. The oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, was featured in Navalny’s latest anti-corruption investigation video posted last week on the opposition activist’s YouTube and other social media accounts.



As Venezuela Crumbles, A Mother Makes A Desperate Journey To Save Her Daughter
Jim Wyss, Miami Herald
Yasmira Gordillo was desperate. She’d spent months searching Venezuela — and failing to find — the three anti-seizure drugs that her daughter needs to stay alive. “She was screaming day and night,” Gordillo said of Maria, her 19-year-old daughter who has cerebral palsy and must use a wheelchair. “I wasn’t sleeping, she wasn’t sleeping, so we had to get out.” Getting out meant sedating Maria and taking her on an excruciating 14-hour, overnight bus ride with no plan in mind except to find medication in Cúcuta, the buzzing Colombian border town that’s both a lifeline and escape route for many Venezuelans.

Will Trump Invade Venezuela? Caracas Accuses Colombia Of A “Bombing Campaign” After US Military Visit
Robert Valencia, Newsweek
Caracas on Monday accused Bogotá of leading a “bombing campaign,” or military efforts to invade Venezuela, following a visit from U.S. Admiral Kurt Tidd, head of the U.S. Southern Command, to Colombia’s coastal city of Tumaco last weekend. “In Colombia, they are planning to revive eras that had ended in human history, like military bombing, a military invasion or the occupation, through blood and gunfire, of a peaceful country like Venezuela,” said Tarek William Saab, Venezuela’s chief prosecutor, according to the state-run AVN news agency. “We will not allow it.”



Why Vietnam Isn’t Talking About 1968
Bennett Murray, Politico
It was January 30, 1968, three years after President Lyndon B. Johnson had ordered 125,000 American troops to Vietnam to ward off a communist takeover of the south, and the rest of Southeast Asia. On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, the battles of the Tet Offensive, in Hue and elsewhere, have been discussed and dissected in news outlets, books, symposiums, TV segments and exhibits across America, where the attacks are remembered as the moment that turned U.S. public opinion against the war. But in Vietnam, the anniversary of this moment in history, leading up to the Tet holiday on February 16, is being observed very differently—if at all.


February 16th, 1959: Fidel Castro declares himself premier of Cuba after the January 1st revolution.