July 11th, 2017 | Victims of Communism

Victims of Communism — Memorial Foundation

July 11th, 2017

CHINA

Ailing Dissident’s Case Fits A Pattern In Chinese Prisons, Critics Say
Javier C. Hernández, THE NEW YORK TIMES
One Chinese activist died after the authorities ignored pleas to treat her liver disease while she was in detention. Another was left with years of chronic pain after prison doctors misdiagnosed a problem with his pancreas. Accusations that Liu Xiaobo, the imprisoned Nobel Peace laureate who has late-stage liver cancer, has not received proper treatment have brought new scrutiny to what human rights advocates say is a pattern in Chinese prisons: the denial of health care to dissidents to intimidate and punish them. At some prisons, requests for health checkups and medicine are refused, human rights experts and former prisoners say. At others, ill prisoners suffer physical abuse and malnutrition. In some cases, chronic ailments and serious diseases are left untreated, or medical care is repeatedly delayed. “There is a real fear amongst prisoners of conscience and their families that authorities aren’t afraid to let them die from lack of adequate medical care,” said Frances Eve, a researcher at Chinese Human Rights Defenders, a coalition of advocates.

Detained Over Ivanka Trump Factory Inspection, China Labor Activist Speaks Out
Keith Bradsher, THE NEW YORK TIMES
Hua Haifeng started May by taking a job at a factory that made shoes for the Ivanka Trump brand. By the end of the month, Mr. Hua, an experienced labor activist, was stranded in a crowded police holding cell, kicked by a fellow inmate and facing long interrogations about a wristwatch with a concealed video camera. On Monday, in his first interviews since his release on bail, Mr. Hua described how he was barred from leaving mainland China, had been denied access to a lawyer, and had to sleep next to a bucket of urine while in custody. The case involving Mr. Hua and two fellow activists has focused unwanted attention not only on poor labor practices in China, but also on the manufacturing operations of Ms. Trump, the president’s daughter and a special adviser in the White House. China Labor Watch, a New York-based labor advocacy group, hired Mr. Hua, 36, in early May as a consultant to join two younger activists who had taken jobs at two Huajian International shoe factories in southern China. He was supposed to help them produce videos of labor conditions in the factories, then take them to Hong Kong, Mr. Hua said on Monday.

Here’s China’s Latest Plan To Keep Its Citizens From The Open Internet
Brian Fung, THE WASHINGTON POST
The Chinese government is cracking down on a key technology that Web surfers use to protect their privacy and get around online censorship, according to Bloomberg News. Some of the country’s biggest telecom companies—Bloomberg lists state-run China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom—are being instructed to block customers from using virtual private networks, a technology that redirects a person’s Internet traffic through other servers to make it look like they are connected to the Web from someplace else. For years, Chinese citizens have used VPNs to circumvent the country’s Great Firewall, the colloquial term for blocks and restrictions imposed on the Internet by Beijing in an effort to ensure that only a filtered version of the Web is visible to most of the country. VPNs have allowed tech-savvy Chinese Internet users to access restricted news sites and social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook.

NORTH KOREA

The Secret To Kim’s Success? Some Experts See Russian Echoes In North Korea’s Missile Advances
Joby Warrick, THE WASHINGTON POST
Four months before its July 4 missile test, North Korea offered the world a rare technical preview of its latest missile engine, one said to be capable of lobbing nuclear warheads at US cities. A video on state-run TV depicted a machine with thickets of tubes and vents, and a shape that struck some US experts as familiar—in a distinctly Soviet way. “It shocked me,” said Michael Elleman, one weapons expert who noticed jarring similarities between the engine tested by North Korea in March and one he frequently encountered in Russia at the end of the Cold War. “It seemed to come out of nowhere.” After intensive study, Elleman, a former consultant at the Pentagon, and other specialists would report that they had detected multiple design features in the new North Korean missile engine that echo those of a 1960s-era Soviet workhorse called the RD-250. There is no record of Pyongyang’s obtaining blueprints for the Russian missile engine, and experts disagree on whether it ever did so. But the discovery of similarities has focused new attention on a question that has dogged US analysts for at least the past two years: How has North Korea managed to make surprisingly rapid gains in its missile program, despite economic sanctions and a near-universal ban on exports of military technology to the impoverished communist state?

North Korea’s Surprising, Lucrative Relationship With Africa
Kevin Sieff, THE WASHINGTON POST 
Near the southern tip of Africa, 8,000 miles from Pyongyang, Namibia’s capital city is an unlikely testament to North Korean industry. There’s the futuristic national history museum, the sleek presidential palace, the sprawling defense headquarters and the shadowy munitions factory. They were built—or are still being constructed—by North Korea, for a profit. For years, North Korea has used African nations like this one as financial lifelines, building infrastructure and selling weapons and other military equipment as sanctions mounted against its authoritarian regime. Although China is by far North Korea’s largest trading partner, the smaller African revenue streams have helped support the impoverished Hermit Kingdom, even as its leaders develop an ambitious nuclear weapons program in defiance of the international community. But Namibian officials describe a different North Korea—a longtime ally, a partner in development and an affordable contractor. Since the 1960s, when North Korea began providing support for African nations during their independence struggles with European colonial powers, the regime has fostered political ties on the continent that have turned into commercial relationships.

North Koreans In Russia Work “Basically In The Situation Of Slaves”
Andrew Higgins, THE NEW YORK TIMES
Across Western Europe and the United States, immigrants from poorer countries, whether plumbers from Poland or farmhands from Mexico, have become a lightning rod for economic anxieties over cheap labor. The Russian city of Vladivostok on the Pacific Ocean, however, has eagerly embraced a new icon of border-crushing globalization: the North Korean painter. Unlike migrant workers in much of the West, destitute decorators from North Korea are so welcome that they have helped make Russia at least the equal of China—Pyongyang’s main backer—as the world’s biggest user of labor from the impoverished yet nuclear-armed country. Human rights groups say this state-controlled traffic amounts to a slave trade, but so desperate are conditions in North Korea that laborers often pay bribes to get sent to Russia, where construction companies and Russians who need work on their homes are delighted to have them.

UNITED STATES

With Tensions High, Pentagon Flies Bombers Over Korean Peninsula In Show Of Force
Dan Lamothe and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, THE WASHINGTON POST
The Pentagon flew two B-1B bombers over the Korean Peninsula Friday in a show of force, carrying out a 10-hour, multipart mission alongside fighter jets from South Korea and Japan four days after North Korea launched its first-ever intercontinental ballistic missile. US Pacific Command disclosed the operation late Friday, saying the mission was a demonstration of the “ironclad” American commitment to allies in the region. The Air Force launched the planes from Andersen Air Force Base on Guam, flying west across the Pacific before joining South Korean F-15s and dropping inert bombs over Pilsung Range, a training area in the northeastern corner of South Korea. The US bombers flew back to Guam alongside Japanese F-2 fighters over the East China Sea. The US military continues to train with Japanese forces to make sure they are collectively ready to defend against an attack, said Lt. Gen. Jerry P. Martinez, the commander of US Forces Japan.

US To Press For New Sanctions Against North Korea
Ellen Mitchell, THE HILL
The United States, Japan and South Korea will press for further sanctions on North Korea at the United Nations despite opposition to a measure earlier this week that would have condemned Pyongyang for a missile launch. In a joint statement, President Trump and the leaders of the two other countries said they would “never accept” a nuclear-armed North Korea. They said they would press “for the early adoption” of a new UN resolution imposing new sanctions on North Korea. The statement, which followed a meeting held by Trump, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the margins of a G-20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany, did not spell out the nature of the new sanctions. The three leaders also asked the international community “to swiftly and fully implement” all UN resolutions on North Korea and to take measures to reduce economic relations with Pyongyang.

VENEZUELA

Venezuela’s Symbol Of Hope: Opposition Leader Leopoldo López Is Freed To House Arrest
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
The mayhem in Venezuela is rising and dictator Nicolás Maduro knows he’s in trouble because on Saturday his security services moved opposition leader Leopoldo López to house arrest from Ramo Verde military prison. Mr. López’s release is a victory for a weary opposition that has been protesting in the streets since April, demanding new elections and freedom for political prisoners. The National Guard and police have responded with violent crackdowns, and last week Mr. Maduro’s goons stormed the national assembly and beat two opposition congressmen bloody. The death toll now exceeds 90 and there are still more than 400 political prisoners. Mr. Maduro called Mr. López’s release a humanitarian gesture, and at least the 46-year-old opposition leader is reunited with his wife and two young children. But he was fitted with an electronic bracelet and continues to serve what remains of his nearly 14-year sentence on trumped-up charges of inciting violence during protests in 2014. Mr. Maduro fears that if Mr. López were free to campaign he would galvanize the opposition and force an election Mr. Maduro would lose.

Things Are So Bad In Venezuela That People Are Rationing Toothpaste
Rachelle Krygier, THE WASHINGTON POST
Five years ago, when Hugo Chávez was president and Venezuela was a much different place, Ana Margarita Rangel could still afford to go to the movies and the beach, or to buy the ingredients she needed to bake cakes. Even three years ago, when the country’s economy was beginning a severe contraction, Rangel earned enough for an occasional treat such as soda or ice cream. Now she spends everything she earns to fend off hunger. Her shoes are tattered and torn, but she cannot afford new ones. A tube of toothpaste costs half a week’s wages. “I’ve always loved brushing my teeth before going to sleep. I mean, that’s the rule, right?” said Rangel, who lives in a hillside slum 25 miles west of Caracas, the capital, and works in a cosmetics factory down in the suburban city of Guarenas.

Venezuela National Guard Official Charged For Congress Raid
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS 
Venezuela’s chief prosecutor filed charges Monday against a senior National Guard commander over an attack on congress in which four lawmakers were beaten up by pro-government activists. As head of security at the National Assembly, Col. Bladimir Lugo was responsible for troops who stood by Friday when the activists stormed into congress and began swinging wooden planks and steel bars at lawmakers gathered to commemorate Venezuela’s Independence Day. Lugo is the third top official accused of abuses by chief prosecutor Luis Ortega since the start of near daily protests in April that have left more than 90 people dead. Protesters angry with the socialist administration over Venezuela’s high inflation, food shortages and high crime took to the streets again Monday in the capital. President Nicolás Maduro has praised the behavior of security forces in putting down the protests and personally decorated Lugo after an earlier incident in which he shoved National Assembly President Julio Borges.




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