May 18th, 2017 | Victims of Communism

Victims of Communism — Memorial Foundation

May 18th, 2017


China Is Reluctant to Blame North Korea, Its Ally, for Cyberattack
Paul Mozur and Jane Perlez, NEW YORK TIMES
North Korea tests nuclear weapons less than 100 miles from China’s border. It launched a missile hours before a speech by Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping on Sunday, a move Chinese analysts called a diplomatic slap in the face. Its counterfeiting of Chinese and American currency costs China millions of dollars a year. North Korea’s history of erratic behavior has embarrassed China in many ways. But through it all, China has remained stoic about its neighbor and ally. As evidence mounts that North Korea may have links to a ransomware attack that destroyed more than 200,000 computers globally—and hit 40,000 institutions in China—China’s response has been muted. Which raises the question: How far can North Korea go without getting disciplined by its much more powerful neighbor?

Son of Chinese Rights Lawyer Denied Access to Primary School After Torture Report
Authorities in the Chinese capital have placed restrictions on the young son of a prominent human rights lawyer, preventing him from enrolling in primary school, his parents said on Wednesday. Chen Jiangang, who helped to expose the torture of his client and fellow lawyer Xie Yang, said his eldest son has been prevented from enrolling in primary education—compulsory for all Chinese children—after the local police station put political pressure on the school. Chen’s wife Zou Shaomei said she had been told about police contact with the school by one of the teachers. “I think the authorities are trying to threaten my husband,” she said. But police in Beijing’s suburb of Tongzhou later denied that they were behind the decision.


North Korea Has a New Ferry Service
North Korea launched a ferry service to the Russian city of Vladivostok on Wednesday to develop links and boost economic cooperation, the North’s state media said, as it faces increasing isolation over its weapons development. Experts have said North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, may be hoping closer ties with Russia would help if China, the North’s main economic benefactor, steps up sanctions against it over its weapons programs. Russian leader Vladimir Putin said on Monday that while Moscow was opposed to any new countries acquiring nuclear weapons, the world should talk to North Korea rather than threaten it. The ferry, the Mangyongbong, set sail from the North Korean port of Rajin, the North’s KCNA news agency said.

UN Security Council Holds Talks After North Korean Missile Launch
Farnaz Fassihi, FOX NEWS
The United Nations Security Council on Tuesday held a closed-door, emergency meeting on North Korea, holding talks on new sanctions in response to the country’s latest ballistic missile test. The US and China were negotiating a resolution that would implement new sanctions and tighten existing penalties on Pyongyang, diplomats said. China is North Korea’s main ally at the UN and has in the past advocated for direct negotiations rather than economic and military punishment. The Council had moved quickly to issue a statement on Monday, displaying rare unity on a thorny international problem. The statement condemned the missile launch and said the Council would monitor the situation and impose significant new sanctions. Diplomats said that an oil embargo, expanded trade bans and sanctioning more individuals and companies would be among the measures that the Council considered.


Three Lao Workers Handed Lengthy Jail Terms for Slamming Government Online
Three Lao workers arrested last year for criticizing their government on Facebook while working in Thailand have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms, drawing condemnation from rights groups and calls for their immediate release. Somphone Phimmasone, 29, his girlfriend Lod Thammavong, 30, and Soukane Chaithad, 32, disappeared in March 2016 after returning to Laos to renew their passports. While working in Thailand, the three had strongly criticized the Lao government online, accusing it of human rights abuses. They were later shown on Lao television making what appeared to be public confessions for what they called the mistake of protesting the country’s policies. An official told a relative that Lod Thammavong, Soukane Chaithad, and Somphone Phimmasone had been sentenced to 12 years, 18 years, and 20 years in prison, respectively.


With Chinese Tourism Down, Taiwan Looks to Lure Visitors From Southeast Asia
Nowhere is the boom in tourism from China over the past decade more palpable than among neighbors of the country, Asia’s largest economy. But perceived economic benefits can be used as a political weapon when Beijing wants to send a message. Many Chinese tourists are boycotting South Korea in response to its deployment of an antimissile system that China considers a threat to its security. Hong Kong had a similar experience after pro-democracy demonstrations in 2014. “Beijing has used Chinese tour groups as both carrots and sticks,” said Ian Rowen, an assistant professor of geography at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, who is writing a book on Chinese tourism. Now, the stick is being deployed against Taiwan, he said, to pressure President Tsai Ing-wen, who took office a year ago, to publicly endorse a view of China and Taiwan as part of “one China.”


GOP Senators Urge UN Security Council Action on North Korea
Rebecca Kheel, THE HILL
A trio of Republican senators is urging the UN Security Council to take “immediate and additional actions” against North Korea. “We are encouraged by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) meeting today to discuss the urgency of the threat posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK),” they wrote in a letter to the council Tuesday. “We urge the UNSC to take immediate and additional actions to increase the pressure on the DPRK and bring Pyongyang into full compliance with its international obligations.” The letter was organized by Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and cosigned by Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). The Security Council held an emergency meeting Tuesday afternoon in the wake of North Korea’s latest missile launch.

Sanders Misses Financial Disclosure Filing Deadline
Ben Kamisar, THE HILL
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has missed the deadline to file his annual financial disclosures with the Senate, a move that continues to delay a complete examination of how his 2016 presidential bid affected his personal wealth. Sanders’s Senate office instead requested and received a 20-day extension. Those documents, when filed, will shed light on Sanders’s financial situation from 2016, a pivotal year in the senator’s career when he ran for president and emerged as one of the top figures in progressive Democratic politics. It’s not unusual for senators to miss the deadline. Sanders’s early months in the presidential campaign are covered by his 2015 financial disclosure, and a spokesman told The Hill the extension is “routine.”


Riot Police on Venezuela’s Front Lines Seek a Way Out
The security forces’ once fierce loyalty to Mr. Maduro’s charismatic predecessor Hugo Chávez has largely given way to demoralization, exhaustion and apathy amid an economic collapse and endless protests, said eight security officers from different forces and locations in interviews. Most of them say they want only to earn a steady wage amid crippling food shortages and a decimated private sector. Others say fear of a court-martial keeps them in line. “We’re just trying to survive,” said Caracas police officer Viviane, a single mother who says she shows up for protest duty so she can feed her one-year-old son. “I would love to quit but there are no other jobs.” A full-time Venezuelan police officer or member of the National Guard, the country’s militarized police in charge of riot control, makes the national minimum wage of about $40 a month at the black-market exchange rates, the same as a cafe waiter.

United Nations Security Council Turns Eye to Venezuela Crisis
Michelle Nichols, REUTERS
The United Nations Security Council turned its attention to the growing crisis in Venezuela for the first time on Wednesday as the United States warned of the consequences of “serious instability” in the country. “We’re starting to see serious instability in Venezuela,” US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told reporters after the closed-door Security Council meeting, which was requested by the United States. “The intent of this briefing was to make sure everyone is aware of the situation … we’re not looking for Security Council action.” Uruguay’s UN Ambassador Elbio Rosselli, president of the Security Council for May, said that at this point Uruguay believed the Venezuelan crisis should be handled within the region. Venezuela’s UN Ambassador Rafael Ramirez accused the United States of encouraging violent elements within Venezuela seeking to topple the Maduro government. Haley said Washington did not call the council meeting to be intrusive.