February 22nd, 2017 | Victims of Communism

Victims of Communism — Memorial Foundation

February 22nd, 2017


Time to Forthrightly Face China’s Human Rights Abuses
A week before the UN Human Rights Council opens its 2017 session, with China starting a new three-year term, I will be there to provide a dissenting voice: a rare moment of truth about the tribulations of the people of Tibet. China has been the illegal occupier of Tibet since 1949. In the nearly 70 years since, China has trampled on the rights and freedoms of the Tibetan people, denying us our right to practice our religion and preserve our language and cultural traditions, closely monitoring our day to day activities, destroying our environmental resources, and curtailing our freedom of movement.

For Xinjiang’s Uyghurs, “Hashar” by Any Other Name Still Means Forced Labor
While Chinese officials in the Xinjiang region insist that they no longer compel Uyghurs to supply free labor for public works projects, in reality they have only changed the name of the practice, RFA’s Uyghur Service has learned. “The hashar is abolished, and the farmers are being informed about it in village after village,” a Chinese official in Hotan (in Chinese, Hetian) prefecture’s Guma county’s civil affairs office told RFA in a recent interview. Hashar is the Uyghur term for compulsory labor in fields and roads. The announcement was met with joy among Uyghurs, but that good will dried up after Uyghur farmers in the region discovered that they would still have to do hashar-like labor.


Human Rights Issues are at Stake in North Korea, too
Victor Cha and Lindsay Lloyd, NEWSDAY.COM
North Korea’s missile test Saturday underscores that the rogue leaders of the unpredictable nation will present a top challenge for the Trump administration. The reality is that North Korea’s unprecedented and accelerating tempo of missile tests and nuclear detonations—64 between the years 2009 and 2016—show no sign of abating. The hard truth is that North Koreans suffer widespread human rights violations and are denied fundamental freedoms. The 2014 United Nations Commission of Inquiry (COI) Report documents food shortages, political prison camps, public executions and detentions without due process.

N.K. Defector-writer Speaks out Against Pyongyang’s Human Rights Abuses
North Korean defector Lee Gie-myung wrote plays in the North for about 20 years, but lacked freedom of expression as the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) never failed to censor his works. In a country where literature is used as a propaganda tool to praise North Korea’s leader, Lee had to undergo inner conflict, suppressing his desire to express his thoughts as a writer. “If you do not follow the WPK’s guidelines, you could die in North Korea. I could not help but conform to the system for survival,” said the 64-year-old Lee, who defected to South Korea in 2004. “But here, I am writing what I want to say—stories about North Koreans’ lives.”


Kyiv Urges Reforms to Stop Russia from Vetoing UN Action on Ukraine Conflict
Ukraine called for reform of the United Nations Security Council’s power structure to prevent Russia from using its veto power on the council to obstruct actions involving the conflict in eastern Ukraine. “We need urgently to reform the Security Council in order to remove the veto power abuses,” said Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, who chaired a meeting of the council on unresolved conflicts in Europe on February 21. A provision of the council’s charter requires that “a party to a dispute shall abstain from voting” when the council acts, but it has been “blatantly ignored,” he said.

New Mass Detention in Russian-occupied Crimea
Another Crimean Tatar has been charged in Russian-occupied Crimea over an innocuous social network post from 2014, with 10 other Crimean Tatars who arrived outside his home to show moral support and report what has happening also taken away. Lawyer Emil Kurbedinov notes that fears of further escalation with repressive measures used against civic activists are proving well-founded. Russia has also begun persecuting people who come out to peacefully demonstrate their support for victims of repression and to report the arrests.

Ukraine Backs More Sanctions against Russia in Passport Spat
Vladimir Isachenkov, THE WASHINGTON POST
Ukraine’s president called Tuesday for new sanctions against Russia over its decision to recognize passports issued by separatist authorities in eastern Ukraine, while the Kremlin accused Ukraine of denying vital documents to people in the rebel regions. The Kremlin said its decision is a “humanitarian” move to help residents of rebel-held areas in eastern Ukraine who are suffering from a blockade by Ukrainian nationalists, and says that doesn’t amount to recognizing the rebel regions.


CNN en Español: Venezuela Broadcasting Ban Is Extreme and Antidemocratic
The cutoff of the CNN en Español feed in Venezuela is an “extreme” and antidemocratic reaction that harms the Venezuelan people, the channel’s general manager, Cynthia Hudson, told EFE on Tuesday. “We feel that this has been a conflation of a series of unrelated events…as well as our reporting. And this conflation, we believe, has led to an extreme response by the government of Venezuela,” she said. The Venezuelan government last Wednesday ordered the immediate suspension of the US channel’s broadcasts in the South American country, saying that its reports “defame and distort the truth” and attack Venezuela’s “peace and democratic stability.”