June 21st, 2017 | Victims of Communism

Victims of Communism — Memorial Foundation

June 21st, 2017


China’s Police Run Detention Centers Are A “Human Rights Disaster”
Recent proposals to reform China’s police-run detention centers are unlikely to do much to address a nationwide “human rights disaster” for police suspects in detention, human rights lawyers told RFA. The country’s Ministry of Public Security issued a call for consultation this week on a replacement for its Detention Center Law, saying the legislation lags behind in term of human rights protection, and that the ministry wishes to update it to “ensure the legitimate rights and interests of detainees.” Prominent human rights lawyer Wen Donghai said human rights abuses are rife within the police detention system. Meanwhile, human rights rights attorney Yu Wensheng, whose lawyer client Wang Quangzhang has been held incommunicado in police detention for nearly two years, said he is very angry at the widespread lack of respect for human rights in the police detention system.

In Greece, China Finds An Ally Against Human Rights Criticism
Nick Cumming-Bruce and Somini Sengupta, THE NEW YORK TIMES
China has long won diplomatic allies in the world’s poor countries by helping them build expensive roads and ports. Now, it appears to have similarly won over a needy country in Europe. At a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council this month in Geneva, the European Union sought to draw renewed attention to human rights abuses in China—only to be blocked by one of its member countries, Greece. It was the first time that the European Union did not make a statement in the Human Rights Council regarding rights violations in specific countries, including China, which has a seat on the council. That silence was an embarrassing reversal for the 28-country bloc, which has prided itself on taking progressive positions on human rights on a council where some nations with poor human rights records habitually resist country-specific resolutions and examinations of their conduct.


Engage Cuba Officials Listed As Registered Agents Of For-Profit Travel Service
Executives of the nonprofit advocacy group Engage Cuba, one of whom has taken credit for leading an “under-the-radar” $3 million national campaign to convince the Obama administration “to reform” US-Cuba relations, are listed as registered agents of a for-profit travel service that shares the initials of the non-profit firm. Engage Cuba is a nonprofit that advocates lifting the travel and trade embargo on Cuba. It was formed in 2015 after then-President Barack Obama’s late-2014 diplomatic thaw with the communist island nation. Over the last few months, the group has released several reports and polls aimed at convincing Trump not to roll back any of Obama’s looser rules on travel to and US commerce with Cuba.


Kim Jong-un Lives In Fear Of Assassination By Western ‘Decapitation’ Team, Says Report
Alex Diaz, FOX NEWS
North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is reportedly so terrified of being targeted for assassination that he travels incognito inside the Hermit Kingdom, and there’s growing evidence his paranoia may be well-founded. The 33-year-old, third-generation ruler is “extremely nervous” about a clandestine plot to take him out, according to a key South Korean lawmaker who spoke to The Korea Herald. Rep. Lee Cheol-woo, chairman of the South Korean parliament’s intelligence committee, made the claim based on reports from South Korea’s intelligence agency. “Kim is engrossed with collecting information about the ‘decapitation operation’ through his intelligence agencies,” Lee said following a briefing last week. The rumored “decapitation plan” to target Kim and key deputies in the event fighting broke out on the peninsula first surfaced in late 2015, when the US and South Korea signed “Operation Plan 5015,” a joint strategy for possible war scenarios with North Korea.


Human Rights Organization Wants Rodman Removed From HOF… Over North Korea Ties
A major human rights org is calling for the Basketball Hall of Fame to boot Dennis Rodman over his relationship with Kim Jong-un—saying it’s not right to publicly support a “murderer.”  The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation—a non-profit organization established by Congress in ’94—is furious with The Worm over his recent visit to North Korea and his ongoing relationship with the country’s leader. VOC says Kim Jong-un has “blood on his hands” for the “murder” of American citizen, Otto Warmbier, and they’re demanding Rodman condemn Jong-un… or else. “Dennis Rodman’s complacency and coddling of Kim Jong-un romanticizes and makes light of how dangerous North Korea is to its own people and Americans who travel there. Removing Rodman from the Hall of Fame will send a message that all Americans are united against this regime.” VOC has started a petition on Change.org to get Dennis out of the HOF—and Executive Director Marion Smith is putting pressure on the NBA to essentially excommunicate him from the pro basketball community. We’ve reached out to Rodman’s camp for comment—so far, no word back.

Russian Jet Flies Within 5 Feet of US Spy Plane
Paul D. Shinkman, USA NEWS
A Russian jet flew dangerously close to a US reconnaissance aircraft in the skies over the Baltic Sea on Monday, according to multiple reports, adding yet another incident to a growing list of escalating activities between Moscow and Washington. The jet flew within 5 feet of the wingtip of an American RC-135 before passing under the spy plane and up again on the other side, according to CBS News, citing an American official. The US plane was 25 miles northwest of Kaliningrad, the coastal Russian enclave wedged between Poland and Lithuania. The US military considers the incident an unsafe air intercept. The incident occurred a day after the US on Sunday shot down a Syrian military fighter jet, prompting outrage from Moscow over what it considered a provocative act against a partner government and raising concerns of further escalation between the US and Russian militaries.

US Dispatches Supersonic Bombers In Show Of Force Against North Korea
The United States flew two supersonic bombers over the Korean Peninsula on Tuesday in a show of force against North Korea. The US often sends powerful warplanes in times of heightened animosities with North Korea. Tuesday’s flights came shortly after the death of a US college student who was recently released by North Korea in a coma following more than 17 months in captivity. Seoul’s Defense Ministry said the bombers engaged in routine exercises with South Korean fighter jets aimed at showing deterrence against North Korea. The family of American college student Otto Warmbier said the 22-year-old died Monday, days after his release from North Korea. Analysts say his death will likely cast a shadow on relations between the US and North Korea and compound efforts by South Korea’s new liberal president, Moon Jae-in, to improve ties with the North.


Western Hemisphere Group Tries To Press Venezuela To Restore Democracy
Diplomats from the Western Hemisphere met in Mexico on Monday and attempted to pressure Venezuela to restore democracy and ease the political chaos and repression tearing apart the oil-rich country whose citizens are on starvation diets. Venezuela’s descent into authoritarian rule and violence is the main focus of a three-day meeting of the Organization of American States, the leading defender of democracy and human rights in the Western Hemisphere. So far, the socialist government of President Nicolás Maduro has resisted every entreaty by the OAS to adhere to the country’s constitution. Venezuela in response decided to withdraw from the OAS, a procedure that takes two years. The OAS meeting in Cancun is a last-ditch attempt to get Maduro to reverse course before an assembly is chosen in late July to draft a new version of the constitution.

Another Youth Killed As Venezuela Protesters Flex Muscle In Street Clashes
Frank Jack Daniel, REUTERS
Venezuelan opposition activists battled security forces in Caracas on Monday at one of the largest demonstrations in recent weeks, aiming to dispel doubts about the movement’s stamina after over two months of almost daily street clashes. A teenager died of a gunshot wound in the latest clashes and several others were injured, bringing the death toll since April to at least 73. About 10,000 protesters filled the streets and arching flyovers of the city’s wealthy east. Faced with security forces’ water cannons and volleys of teargas, a deep line of protesters threw rocks, petrol bombs and powerful fireworks from behind crude wooden shields. “Day 80 of the resistance, and the people are not tired. Today, it is clear to anybody who was worried that the street had died down that it is not the case,” Freddy Guevara, a lawmaker from the opposition Popular Will party, said at the protest.

Venezuela’s “Painter Of Protests” Sees Art On The Barricades
Fabiola Sanchez, ABC NEWS
Day after day, abuse is hurled at the art of Oscar Olivares. Rubber bullets and tear gas canisters clatter off protesters’ shields adorned with his works—cartoon-like digital paintings that have made him an instant icon for the demonstrators who have taken to Venezuela’s streets in recent weeks to oppose the socialist government. Olivares received a standing ovation at a recent event by former colleagues of volunteer paramedic Paul Moreno, who died in May after being crushed by a truck while attending to injured protesters. In Olivares’ hands, Moreno is immortalized as 24-year-old clinching his fist high the air while walking through a cloud of tear gas with Venezuela’s colorful flag trailing behind. Another popular creation, called the “Heroes of Liberty,” depicts the more than 50 victims of this year’s protests—along with victims of previous unrest in 2014—standing alongside independence hero Simon Bolivar and other national icons smiling widely and staring into a sky full of white doves. “I wanted to show in my artwork the sort of country we can have one day,” said the 20-year-old artist, who could barely mumble his first words when Hugo Chavez came to power in 1999. “I wanted to send a message of hope, something positive that would encourage people to stay on the street and struggle.”


Vietnam Rights Report Highlights Beatings, Intimidation Against Critics
Matt Spetalnick, REUTERS
Vietnamese human rights bloggers and activists are being beaten and intimidated, Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Monday, as it urged the Communist government to end attacks and hold those responsible accountable. The New York-based rights group described 36 incidents in which unknown men in civilian clothes beat rights campaigners and bloggers between January 2015 and April 2017, often resulting in serious injuries. Despite sweeping reforms in Vietnam’s economy and increasing openness towards social change, the Communist Party retains tight media censorship and zero tolerance for criticism. With information tightly controlled by the government, some critics take to web blogs to air their grievances. Social media sites, including Facebook, are also hugely popular.