June 28th, 2017 | Victims of Communism

Victims of Communism — Memorial Foundation

June 28th, 2017


US Urges China To Allow Jailed Nobel Laureate To Get Cancer Treatment Abroad, But Is It Too Late?
The United States joined calls for the immediate release of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, urging China to set him free so he may receive the medical treatment of his choosing for what is believed to be late-stage liver cancer. Some worry it’s already too late. In a tearful video message, his wife, Liu Xia, suggested that treatment was either no longer possible, or simply not an offer. “Cannot perform surgery, cannot perform radiotherapy, cannot perform chemotherapy,” she said in the tearful, 10-second clip, which was posted by a friend. She did not elaborate. News of Liu’s illness surprised close associates and distant supporters alike, raising questions about whether China withheld information about his health or denied him timely access to care. Hu Jia, a fellow activist, said that the family wanted Liu to be treated in Beijing, where hospitals are better, or abroad, but that Chinese authorities had other plans, possibly fearing unrest ahead of big political meetings scheduled for the fall.

China’s Premier, Li Keqiang, Praises Free Trade, In Contrast To Trump
Keith Bradsher, THE NEW YORK TIMES
Premier Li Keqiang of China reaffirmed on Tuesday his country’s desire to be seen as the world’s new leader in globalization and free trade, but he offered no specifics on how China might lower its own trade barriers, which are among the steepest of any large country. Speaking at the opening of a World Economic Forum conference in northeastern China, Mr. Li portrayed his country as deeply committed to a continued opening up of international competition. Without naming the United States or the Trump administration, he also said that it was wrong to blame free trade for economic or social problems. “When we sprain an ankle when walking on the road, we should not blame the road and stop walking,” Mr. Li said, later adding that “in international economic relations, one should not impose unilateral rules… Only in this way can we achieve free and fair trade.”

China’s Massive “One Road” Project Largely Bypasses Russia, But Moscow Still On Board
China’s grand plan to revamp trade corridors to Europe involves around 60 countries and hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of new networks of roads, ports, railways, power stations, and energy pipelines. But the so-called One Belt, One Road (OBOR) project doesn’t appear to pack many presents for Russia. In fact, analysts say, it largely ignores China’s sprawling frenemy to the north and its 11 time zones’ worth of aging infrastructure and potential investment. “If you look at how OBOR is being rolled out, you can tell that Russia almost doesn’t feature in it,” Sijbren de Jong, a strategic analyst at The Hague Centre on Strategic Studies, told RFE/RL. The approach hasn’t stopped Moscow from publicly embracing Beijing’s effort to recreate overland (“one belt”) and sea routes (“one road”) between China and Europe.

Vatican Concerned Over Bishop Detained In China
The Vatican has expressed “grave concerns” for one of its bishops who was detained after being “forcibly removed” from his diocese in China. Chinese Catholic bishop Peter Shao Zhumin was seized by authorities in May, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said. The cleric’s family has been given no information on the reasons for his removal or his current whereabouts. Relations between the Vatican and China have been strained by disputes over who can appoint bishops in the country. Mr. Burke said he was “profoundly saddened” by the situation involving the detention of a bishop from his diocese in Wenzhou, in China’s southeastern Zhejiang province. He said the incident was detrimental to efforts to reach an understanding with the Chinese authorities on the status of the Church in the communist state.


North Korea Compares Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler
North Korea’s state media described President Trump’s “America First ” policy as “Nazism in the 21st century” and compared the US president to Adolf Hitler, in the harshest language that Pyongyang has directed at the Trump administration. Mr. Trump’s policy “is the American version of Nazism far surpassing the fascism in the last century in its ferocious, brutal and chauvinistic nature,” Pyongyang’s state-controlled Korean Central News Agency said in a report published Tuesday. While North Korean propaganda regularly targets the US with military threats, it had remained quiet until recently on the president himself. Typically, North Korea has given new leaders in Washington and Seoul a wider berth at the beginning of their terms, as Pyongyang feels out their likely policies.

What Even Exiled North Koreans Miss About Home
More than 30,000 North Koreans now live in South Korea, having fled poverty, hunger and the relentless pressures of life in an oppressive, authoritarian state. But for most, life in the South is far from ideal. Raised amid dictatorial dysfunction, and normally poorly educated, the exiles stumble into a brutally competitive nation where they are regularly disdained by their neighbors. “Chon-nom” they are often called—”bumpkin.” That derision, combined with their own disillusionment, can churn into a stew of suspicion, resentment and ambivalence. And though they may hate the nation they left behind, many also miss it deeply. Because how can you not miss home? “Our lives here can be so difficult,” said a North Korean now living in the South. She spoke on condition her name not be used; even North Koreans who fled years ago remain concerned about reprisals against them or relatives still in the North.


Rights Groups Call For International Community To Press Laos On Jailed Activists
Ron Corben, VOA
Human rights groups say the international community, including the United Nations, needs to press Lao authorities on human rights issues. The call comes amid a string of harsh jail terms handed down by Lao courts against critics of the Communist government. Rights groups point to Laos’ failures in taking “significant steps to remedy” a poor human rights record and tough restrictions on freedom of speech, association and assembly. Three Lao migrant workers were recently sentenced to jail terms of between 12 and 20 years for comments posted on social media while in Thailand and because they attended a protest outside the Lao Embassy in Bangkok. The three—two men, Somphone Phimmasone, Soukan Chaithad and a woman, Lodkham Thammavorg—were arrested when they returned to Laos.


North Korea At The Top Of Agenda As South Korea’s New President Comes To DC
When South Korea’s new president comes to the United States this week for his first meeting with President Trump, there will be no cozy dinners at Mar-a-Lago or rounds of golf in the Florida sunshine. Instead, Moon Jae-in will be going to the White House for what is shaping up to be a challenging summit, with the leaders taking sharply different approaches to dealing with North Korea and a continuing disagreement over an American antimissile system deployed to South Korea. “The summit should really be about drawing the big picture, but instead they will be focusing on areas of potential friction,” said James Kim, a specialist in US-South Korea relations at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul. Moon, a liberal who was elected president in a landslide in May following the impeachment of conservative Park Geun-hye amid a bribery scandal, has been doing his best to appear conciliatory in the lead-up to the summit.

In Trying To Celebrate Diversity, Suburban Maryland City Creates A Flag Flap
After a spike in hate crimes over the winter, Rockville officials came up with what they thought would be the ideal way to affirm the city’s commitment to diversity and inclusion: fly the flags of all 193 member countries of the United Nations. Within weeks, officials of this diligently progressive Montgomery County seat discovered that celebrating diversity is not a simple business and that good intentions can be derailed by unintended consequences. The loudest protest came from Montgomery’s large Vietnamese community. Trinh Nguyen was furious when he learned that the flag of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam—the communist regime that defeated his homeland of South Vietnam in 1975—was flying outside Rockville Memorial Library. “That red flag is painted by the blood of 3 million Vietnamese plus more than 58 thousand American GIs,” the 75-year-old former captain in the South Vietnamese army wrote in a June 8 email to Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D). Now a retired pharmacist, he said the flag that should be flying is the one that belonged to his vanquished country, South Vietnam, with three red stripes against a field of yellow.

US Lists China As Among Worst Human Trafficking Offenders
James Griffiths and Laura Koran, CNN
A new US State Department report lists China as among the worst offenders for human trafficking, joining Russia, Syria and Iran on the lowest rung of the annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report. China, the report said, “does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; therefore, China was downgraded to Tier 3″—the lowest level. If a nation sits on the Tier 2 Watch List for two years, it’s automatically downgraded to Tier 3, unless the US Secretary of State decides to waive it for a maximum of two years. China was granted a waiver last year. This year, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had the power to grant another one but has opted not to. “China was downgraded to Tier 3 action in this year’s report in part because it has not taken serious steps to end its own complicity in trafficking,” Tillerson said in remarks Tuesday, “including forced laborers from North Korea that are located in China.”


In Venezuela, Prisoners Say Abuse Is So Bad They Are Forced To Eat Pasta Mixed With Excrement
Rachelle Krygier and Joshua Partlow, THE WASHINGTON POST
The headquarters of the Venezuelan intelligence service is a vast pyramid-shaped edifice known as the Helicoide, a former shopping mall which now functions as an interrogation pen for political prisoners and protesters. Over the past 10 weeks of protests in Venezuela, security forces have detained more than 3,200 people, with over a third of them remaining in custody, according to Foro Penal, a legal aid group. Allegations of mistreatment during the arrests and detention have ballooned, according to human rights groups. They come as authorities have also begun to send demonstrators to military courts, where they can face charges of treason and rebellion that carry lengthy sentences. Detainees have reported that the prisons are dismal, with detainees forced to sleep on dirty concrete floors and sometimes defecate in plastic bags.

Helicopter Attack Targets Venezuela’s Supreme Court 
Euan McKirdy, Natallie Gallon, and Lonzo Cook, CNN
A police helicopter launched a daring attack on the Venezuelan Supreme Court Tuesday, in a dramatic escalation of the months-long crisis engulfing the regime of President Maduro. The helicopter was apparently stolen and piloted by an officer in the country’s investigative police force, Oscar Perez. As it strafed the court building and the Interior Ministry in Caracas, the attackers fired gunshots and lobbed grenades, officials said. Maduro condemned the attack as an attempted coup, saying “terrorists” were behind the offensive and that an operation was underway to track the perpetrators down. But much remained murky about the assault: if it was an attempt to unseat Maduro’s government, it was a spectacular failure. No-one was injured and one of the grenades failed to explode, government officials said. It was unclear how a rogue police helicopter could have circled high-profile buildings in the Venezuelan capital without being shot down—eyewitnesses and local journalists say the assault went on for about 2 hours. None of those involved in the attack appear to have been tracked down and the whereabouts of the helicopter remains unknown.