July 31st, 2017 | Victims of Communism

Victims of Communism — Memorial Foundation

July 31st, 2017


China Bans Uyghur Language In Xinjiang Schools
Authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang region have issued a directive completely banning the use of the Uyghur language at all education levels up to and including secondary school, according to official sources, and those found in violation of the order will face “severe punishment.” The new ban marks one of the strongest measures yet from Beijing aimed at assimilating ethnic Uyghurs, who complain of pervasive ethnic discrimination, religious repression, and cultural suppression by the China’s ruling Communist Party in Xinjiang. In late June, the Education Department in Xinjiang’s Hotan (in Chinese, Hetian) prefecture issued a five-point directive outlawing the use of Uyghur at schools in favor of Mandarin Chinese “in order to strengthen elementary and middle/high school bilingual education.” Under the directive—a copy of which was obtained by RFA’s Uyghur Service—schools must “insist on fully popularizing the national common language and writing system according to law, and add the education of ethnic language under the bilingual education basic principle.”

China Parades New Missile In Warning To Rivals Abroad—And At Home
China unveiled a new, more mobile intercontinental ballistic missile at a parade of advanced weaponry and combat troops, in Communist Party leader Xi Jinping’s latest display of military—and political—muscle. State television showed at least 16 DF-31AG missiles in Sunday’s parade at the Zhurihe combat-training base in northern China, marking the 90th anniversary of the founding of the force that is now known as the People’s Liberation Army. Mr. Xi, wearing combat fatigues and a peaked cap, inspected the troops from an open-top military vehicle before the parade, which featured tanks, helicopters, stealth jet fighters and some 12,000 personnel. “The world is not peaceful,” Mr. Xi in a speech afterward that invoked his signature political idea of a “China Dream” to build the country into a global economic and military power. “Today we are closer than any other period in history to the goal of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and we need more than any period in history to build a strong people’s military.”

Apple Removes Apps From China Store That Help Internet Users Evade Censorship
Software made by foreign companies to help Chinese users skirt the country’s system of internet filters has vanished from Apple’s app store on the mainland. One company, ExpressVPN, posted a letter it received from Apple saying that its app had been taken down “because it includes content that is illegal in China.” Another posted a message on its official account that its app had been removed. A search on Saturday showed that some of the most popular foreign virtual-private networks, also known as VPNs, which give users access to the unfiltered internet in China, were no longer accessible on Apple’s app store there. ExpressVPN wrote on its blog that the removal was “surprising and unfortunate.” It added, “We’re disappointed in this development, as it represents the most drastic measure the Chinese government has taken to block the use of VPNs to date, and we are troubled to see Apple aiding China’s censorship efforts.”


Cubans Lament Disinformation About What Happens In Venezuela
Idolidia Darias, MARTI NOTICIAS
Cubans interviewed by Martí Noticias say that on the island there is little information on the violent events that occurred on Sunday’s election day in Venezuela. The lack of information about what is happening in Venezuela was criticized by Cuban activists who have had to appeal to media out of Cuba to obtain details of what happens on Sunday during the election of the Constituent Assembly convened by Nicolás Maduro. Felix Yunier Llerena told Martí Noticias that in Cuba, radio and national television, especially the TeleSur channel, do not provide truthful information about what is happening in Venezuela. Llerena lamented the situation and emphasized that since the protests began months ago Cuban media have maintained censorship on the subject. The opposition said that both he and his friends have had to turn to Radio Martí to get information on what has been happening, because in the national media today they use the “same speech as always in which, according to them, everything is calm and peaceful” in Venezuela, said the young man.


How Steve Jobs Helped This North Korean Defector “Think Different”
Else Hu, NPR
In his North Korean mining town, Kim Hak-min loved getting his hands on electronics so much that he became the go-to guy to fix his neighbors’ watches, TV’s and radios. It earned the nickname “Repair Boy.” “I remember first opening up an electric toy when I was eight years old, figuring out how it worked and clutching it when I went to sleep,” Kim recalls. But by 2011, Kim had yet to encounter a smartphone. “When I was in North Korea the only phones I saw where 2G and they were flip phones,” Kim says. He did get glimpses of life in South Korea, through secretly watching South Korean soap operas, known as K-dramas. They are commonly snuck into the North but forbidden to view. “I remember hiding in my house watching them,” Kim says. Kim was caught by state police and endured arrest, detention and torture for his crime, but exposure to the dramas had already made an impact on his thinking. “During the years of the famine I was starving, but watching these dramas made me feel like I was looking at heaven,” Kim says.


US Blasts Venezuela Vote As “Step Toward Dictatorship”
Venezuela’s National Electoral Council said early Sunday that more than 8 million people had voted to grant President Nicolas Maduro’s ruling socialist party virtually unlimited powers with a new constitutional assembly—a turnout more than double the estimates of both the government’s political opponents and independent experts. The US blasted the vote as a “step toward dictatorship,” and the Trump administration vowed a “strong and swift” response. CBS News correspondent Manuel Bojorquez reports that the US is vowing to respond to the election with new sanctions against Venezuela—possibly as soon as Monday. While the US hasn’t said specifically what any new sanctions against Venezuela will target, oil accounts for nearly half of the government’s revenue, and Venezuela is the third-largest supplier of oil to the US, which buys about a third of the country’s crude.

Trump Administration Quietly Pressing China To Free Liu Xiaobo’s Widow
Quietly but persistently, the Trump administration has been pressing the Chinese government to allow Liu Xia, widow of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, to leave China, where she is being held against her will. Senior US officials regard China’s ongoing mistreatment of Liu and her family as human rights abuses that simply can’t be ignored. The regime of Xi Jinping, meanwhile, is obsessed with the possibility that Congress will pass legislation renaming the street in front of the Chinese Embassy in Washington “Liu Xiaobo Plaza.” Chinese officials have demanded in recent senior-level interactions that the Trump administration bury the bill, to no avail. The issue now threatens to become a major irritant in the US-Chinese relationship. Neither side wants it to escalate to that level, but unless the Chinese government responds to US and international calls to free Liu, there’s little to stop Congress from moving forward.

US, UK, Ukraine, Others Begin Massive Military Drills In Georgia
Some 2,800 troops from host Georgia, the United States, and six other countries have begun a major military exercise in the South Caucasus nation. Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili and other leaders on July 30 said they see the event as a substantial step toward their goal of one day joining NATO. “These exercises will help Georgia to get closer to NATO standards and to strengthen stability in the whole region,” Kvirikashvili said at the opening ceremonies at the Vaziani military base near the capital, Tbilisi. Georgia’s defense minister, Levan Izoria, called the scale of exercises “unprecedented” and said they “make clear the support for Georgia by the NATO member states, especially the US.” US officials in the past have spoken favorably toward Georgian hopes of eventually joining NATO, a move Russia vehemently opposes.

“Time For Talk Is Over.” US Grapples For New Approach On North Korea
James Griffiths, CNN
Washington will not seek UN Security Council action following North Korea’s latest missile test, according to US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, who says that “the time for talk is over.” North Korea’s test of a long-range missile Friday that could potentially hit major US cities has drawn condemnation from the US, China, Japan and South Korea, and calls for a rethinking in tactics toward Pyongyang, given the dramatic escalation in its capabilities. North Korea “is already subject to numerous Security Council resolutions that they violate with impunity,” Haley said Sunday. Instead, she pointed to China, saying Beijing “must decide if it is finally willing to take this vital step” of challenging Pyongyang. Haley’s comments echoed President Donald Trump on Saturday, who said he was “very disappointed in China.”


Wuilly Arteaga, Venezuela’s Opposition Violinist, Tortured By Chavista Dictatorship
Angelo Florez De Andrade, PANAM POST
Venezuela’s Chavista dictatorship, like other autocracies, has used art as propaganda. The Chavista regime, for instance, has tried to present conductor Gustavo Dudamel‘s musical talents as its own. In truth, however, the regime is no friend to artists. Take the case of Wuilly Arteaga, a 23-year-old Venezuelan who made a living by playing his violin on the streets of Caracas. Due to the financial support of many Venezuelans, Arteaga obtained a new violin. His story reached the United States, where artists such as Shakira and Mark Anthony were moved by his courage. Arteaga was then invited to Washington DC, where he performed in the Victims of Communism Memorial. Foro Penal Venezolano reports that Arteaga was tortured, beaten, and burnt by the Venezuelan security forces. Numerous lawyers and human rights organizations have denounced flagrant irregularities in Arteaga’s case. The defendant, for instance, was not allowed to choose an attorney, but was rather assigned one against his will. He was also taken to a court 48 hours after his detention even though the law demands that any detainee not taken before a judge 48 hours after being detained must be freed. Due to the Attorney General’s efforts, Arteaga was granted the possibility of leaving prison on bail. Nevertheless, the amount stipulated is beyond his means according to Foro Penal Venezolano, and Arteaga remains incarcerated.

Venezuela’s Maduro Claims Poll Victory As Opposition Cries Foul
Electoral officials in Venezuela say turnout in the controversial election for a constituent assembly was 41.5 percent, a figure disputed by the opposition. The opposition coalition said 88 percent of voters abstained and it refused to recognize the election. It also called for more protests on Monday. Sunday’s election was marred by violence, with widespread protests and at least 10 people killed. President Nicolás Maduro hailed the poll as a “vote for the revolution.” President Maduro spoke at length on television after the results came out. It was a victory speech for him and his followers but after a day of violence on the streets it’s a pretty hollow victory—if you can even call it that. For all the talk of the vote being an example of democracy, critics accuse him of voter fraud and intimidation and many don’t believe the official numbers of voter turnout. This vote highlights just how polarized the country is with a president who ploughs on regardless of the millions of people who object to it. The anger was palpable on the streets of Caracas on Sunday with crowds of people defying a protest ban and building barricades, awaiting confrontations with police.

Venezuelan Activist Shot Dead In Protest Against Controversial Elections
A Venezuelan opposition activist has been shot dead in protest against controversial elections. Ricardo Campos, who worked as a youth secretary with the opposition Acción Democrática party, was killed during the protest, the head of the national assembly said, according to the BBC. Last night, Jose Felix Pineda, one of the candidates running in the election, was shot and killed in his home. Opposition parties are boycotting what they call a rigged election while their sympathizers plan demonstrations across the country during the day. Critics say the assembly will allow Mr. Maduro to dissolve the opposition-run Congress, delay future elections and rewrite electoral rules to prevent the socialists from being voted out of power in the once-prosperous South American nation.