May 24th, 2017 | Victims of Communism

Victims of Communism — Memorial Foundation

May 24th, 2017


China Intervenes to Block Businessman From Revealing Spying Secrets to VOA
Four VOA employees were suspended last month after more than an hour of the radio’s exclusive interview with exiled billionaire businessman Guo Wengui exceeded a time limit imposed under radio rules. The four employees of the Chinese language radio division are now calling on Congress to investigate whether VOA managers gave in to pressure from China’s government to shorten the Guo interview and as a result undermined the radio’s integrity. Sasha Gong, one of the four suspended employees and chief of VOA‘s Mandarin language service, says Congress should probe the matter. “I would like the Congress to investigate if the management of the taxpayer-funded Voice of America caved in to the request and demand of the Chinese government. If so, what is the reason behind their decision?” she said.

After Report on Killings of CIA Sources, China Asserts Right to Defend Itself
The Chinese government has the obligation to defend its national security and the legal authority to protect China’s interests, a government spokeswoman said on Monday, the first official response to a New York Times report on the dismantling of CIA espionage operations in China. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying, speaking during a regularly scheduled news conference in Beijing, did not confirm or deny The Times’s report that for two years starting in 2010, more than a dozen CIA sources were killed or imprisoned, crippling United States intelligence gathering in China. “I am not aware of the details of that report,” Ms. Hua said, according to an official transcript. “But I can tell you that China’s national security organ is investigating and handling organizations, personnel and activities that endanger China’s national security and interests and fully perform its duty with the authorization by law.”

China’s Hero Lawyers
China’s crackdown on human-rights lawyers is revealing details of how the regime uses torture to force confessions from political prisoners. This month a court in Changsha staged a show trial of a lawyer who earlier this year released an account of mistreatment in prison. Another lawyer was released after being abused and tried in secret in Tianjin. In Changsha, Xie Yang pleaded guilty to subversion and retracted allegations he made in January through his lawyers that he had been beaten, deprived of sleep and held in stress positions. In a statement read to the court, he said he had been “brainwashed” by foreign agents. In Mr. Xie’s January statements, he anticipated this outcome. Writing or recording pre-emptive disavowals of forced confessions has become common among Chinese lawyers.


How Cuba’s Internet Is Fueling New Businesses
Natalie Sherman, BBC
Internet access among Cuba’s 11.2 million people is growing. Between 2013 and 2015, the share of the Cuban population using the internet jumped from about a quarter to more than 35 percent. The growing market has helped draw the attention of internet giants such as Google, which installed servers on the island and started hosting data there last month. The rise is also fueling activity among local entrepreneurs, who are launching domestic versions of sites such as Yelp. But there’s a long way to go. Wi-fi hotspots in parks and other public places operated by the state-run telecom company remain the primary way to log on. Service at the hotspots is often slow, expensive and selective, with the government restricting access to the full range of internet sites.

Havana Lashes Out Against Trump’s May 20 Message To The Cuban People
Nora Gámez Torres, THE MIAMI HERALD
Havana has reacted strongly to a statement issued by President Donald Trump to the Cuban people over the weekend to mark the 115th anniversary of the birth of the Republic of Cuba.  A statement read on Cuban state television on Saturday described Trump’s message as “controversial” and “ridiculous.” The statement, which was also published on the Cuban TV website, is signed only as “Official Note” and it is unclear whether it corresponds to a change of position by the Cuban government, which had been careful in its statements on the new US president, who has ordered a review of Cuba policy. On several occasions, the Cuban government has offered to maintain a dialogue with the United States.


North Korea Claims Drones Can Carry Biological, Chemical Weapons to Strike Seoul Within One Hour
North Korea’s military has 300 to 400 attack drones capable of carrying biological and chemical weapons that could reach the South Korean capital of Seoul within one hour, according to a high-level defector from the isolated regime ruling Pyongyang. The claim coincides with heightened international concern over a different threat from North Korea: mobile, medium- to long-range missiles that Pyongyang has tested with increasing frequency. After successfully launching one of the solid-fuel missiles Sunday, North Korean leaders said they are ready to begin deploying and mass-producing the Pukgukson-2 projectiles, which Pyongyang says are capable of reaching major US military bases in Japan.

South Korea Fires at Suspected Drone at Border With North Amid Missile Crisis
Ju-min Park and Christine Kim, REUTERS
South Korea’s military fired warning shots at a suspected drone from North Korea on Tuesday amid tension over Pyongyang’s latest missile test which drew international condemnation and a warning from China. The identity of the object remained unclear, the military said, but Yonhap news agency said it was possibly a drone. More than 90 shots were fired in return and it disappeared from radar screens. The South Korean military did not say if the unidentified object was hit by the warning shots on Tuesday. North Korea has previously sent drones into South Korean airspace, with some crashing. In January 2016, South Korea fired warning shots at a suspected drone which turned back.


Socialism is So Hot Right Now. Thank Bernie Sanders
DSA―the inheritor of the American Socialist Party―is a chapter-based national political advocacy organization that crusades for policies such as a higher minimum wage, safer working conditions and universal health care. Despite decades of efforts to stigmatize it, socialism is kind of in right now. DSA has rooted itself in the millennial psyche with astonishing speed. DSA officials say their member rolls shot up from around 8,500 on Election Day to about 21,000 as of early May, and they’re getting upwards of 10 requests a week to help open new chapters. New members are overwhelmingly young and tech-savvy, thanks in no small part to the groundwork the Sanders campaign laid by bringing millions of young people into politics. Despite DSA’s often antagonistic attitude toward the Democrats, Democratic officials say they’ll happily accept DSA’s support whenever it’s willing to offer it.

Democrats Warn Trump Against Pre-emptive Attack On North Korea
Rick Gladstone, THE NEW YORK TIMES
Worried over what they described as President Trump’s erratic response to North Korea’s behavior, 64 Democratic legislators urged him on Tuesday to talk directly to the North Koreans—and warned that he would need congressional approval for any pre-emptive military strike. “Few decisions are more needing of debate than a move to launch attacks, or declare war, on a nuclear-armed state such as North Korea,” read a letter signed by the lawmakers, led by Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the last Democrat in Congress to have served in the 1950-53 Korean War. “In such a volatile region, an inconsistent or unpredictable policy runs the risk of unimaginable conflict.” The letter from congressional Democrats said Mr. Tillerson’s approach was the “preferred solution” and strongly urged Mr. Trump to adhere to it.


Venezuela’s Paradox: People Are Hungry, But Farmers Can’t Feed Them
Mariana Zuñiga and Nick Miroff, THE WASHINGTON POST
With cash running low and debts piling up, Venezuela’s socialist government has cut back sharply on food imports. And for farmers in most countries, that would present an opportunity. But this is Venezuela, whose economy operates on its own special plane of dysfunction. At a time of empty supermarkets and spreading hunger, the country’s farms are producing less and less, not more, making the caloric deficit even worse. Drive around the countryside outside the capital, Caracas, and there’s everything a farmer needs: fertile land, water, sunshine and gasoline at 4 cents a gallon, cheapest in the world. Yet somehow families here are just as scrawny-looking as the city-dwelling Venezuelans waiting in bread lines or picking through garbage for scraps. Having attempted for years to defy conventional economics, the country now faces a painful reckoning with basic arithmetic.


Vietnamese Singer Released From Prison Four Months Early
A Vietnamese Catholic jailed since 2011 for singing politically sensitive songs was released this week from prison four months before finishing his six-year term, sources said. Tran Vu Anh Binh was freed on May 21 and returned to his home in Ho Chi Minh City.  Arrested on Sept. 19, 2011, Binh was sentenced in October 2012 to six years in jail for producing “propaganda against the state” after allegedly contributing to a blog run by Patriot Youth, an overseas political opposition group. Several popular singers in Vietnam have performed music by Binh, who is a choir member with the Catholic Redemptorist Order and has written songs protesting against the imprisonment of dissidents. The year spent in jail before Binh’s trial and sentencing was counted as part of his sentence.