On Friday, June 11, the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation joined in person with 16 embassies and 3 delegations and virtually with representatives of 41 captive nations and human rights organizations for the 14th Annual Roll Call of Nations Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Victims of Communism Memorial on Capitol Hill.
This year’s ceremony was especially meaningful as we reminded the world about the recent horrific revelations of the Chinese communist regime’s campaign of genocide against its Uyghur minority. This is also the two-year anniversary of the beginning of the Hong Kong protests. We were proud to present our Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom to Jimmy Lai, Hong Kong entrepreneur and pro-democracy activist, who was recently sentenced to 14 months in prison due to his activism during the 2019 Hong Kong pro-democracy protests.
The brutal crushing of dissent in Hong Kong tells the world all it needs to know about the capacity of communist governments to tolerate even the smallest concessions to freedom. The bravery of Jimmy Lai and many other citizens of Hong Kong tell us the human thirst for freedom will never die.
Honoring Jimmy Lai
Jimmy Lai is a Hong Kong entrepreneur and pro-democracy activist. He founded Giordano, an Asian clothing retainer, Next Digital, a Hong Kong-listed media company, and the popular newspaper Apple Daily.
Lai is a prominent critic of the Chinese Communist Party. According to Lai, The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek inspired him to fight for freedom. His business ventures are strong depictions of his advocacy and his high-profile support for the Hong Kong pro-democracy movements has been viciously condemned by the Chinese government.
Lai was a leader of Hong Kong’s 2014 Umbrella Movement and is being accused and tried for his involvement in the 2019-2020 pro-democracy movement. Following the most recent protests, Lai was arrested on suspicion of “collaborating with foreign forces,” a charge Beijing was able to bring against him in the wake of a national security law imposed on Hong Kong following the unrest.
The same day of his arrest, approximately 200 Hong Kong police officers raided the offices of Apple Daily, seizing over 125 boxes of materials. The raid was met with high-level scrutiny — Hong Kong Journalists Association described the raid as “horrendous” and unprecedented in Hong Kong, former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten called the events “the most outrageous assault yet” on Hong Kong’s press, and the head of the University of Hong Kong journalism department called the raid an “outrageous, shameful attack on press freedom.”
In December 2020, Lai was awarded the “Freedom of Press Award” by Reporters Without Borders for his role in founding Apple Daily.
On April 16, 2021, Lai was sentenced to 14 months in prison, for the first of what will be seven trials for his support of democracy in Hong Kong. The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation awards our highest honor, the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom, to Jimmy Lai for his lifelong commitment to freedom and democracy in Hong Kong, his dogged opposition to communism and all other forms of tyranny, as well as his determination to fight the CCP’s authoritarian actions no matter the cost.
Thank You to Our Sponsors
The Hon. James Burnley, IV
Good Comma Editing
Mr. & Mrs. Andy & Rebecca Hagelin
Amb. J. William Middendorf II
The Hon. Donald Ritter, Sc.D.
Mr. Haxh Dauti, in honor of the Albanian American Council
Mrs. Ann Fitzgerald
Dr. Ingris A. Gregg
Intercollegiate Studies Institute, in honor of Frank Chodorov
The Hon. Edwin Meese III, in honor of Lee Edwards
Mr. Karl Altau, in honor of the Baltic countries
Americans for Tax Reform
Mr. Andy Anderson, in honor of Taylor Anderson
Mr. & Mrs. Charlotte & Brant Bassett, in honor of Nicholas Pashin
Mr. Don Bellante
Ms. Bozenna A. Buda, in memory of Edwards & Marianna Buda
Mr. Seth Cropsey
Dr. Elida Dakoli, in honor of Attorney Hysen Myshketa & Sadik Dakoli
Mr. Patrick DeVito
Focus on the Family
Prof. Jody Gatwood, in honor of Ivan Galamian
Ms. Grace Goodell
Mr. Steven Griffin, in honor of Sergeant Major Raymond Smith
Mr. Jerry Hendrickson
International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China
Mr. Leck Keohanam, in honor of Mr. Thongsouk Saysangkhy, our Lao fallen freedom fighter
Mr. Pavel Klein
Dr. Alan Charles Kors
Mr. Paul Kortepeter
Mr. Janis Kukainis
Ms. Lorraine Lawlis, in honor of Rosa María Payá of Cuba Decide
Ms. Dominique Lazanski
Mr. Hai-Duc Le
Ms. Mary E. Lewis, in honor of Jane A. & Bartram D. Lewis
Dr. Xiaoxu Sean Lin
Mrs. Merita McCormack, in honor of Bajraktari & Kalaja Families of Korçë County, Albania
Ms. Kim McGrath, in honor of John McGrath
Trinh Nguyen, in honor of Friends of the Imperial City of Hue, Vietnam
Memory Project, Visual History Archive of Hungarian Emigration
Ms. Catherine O’Connor
Mr. David Pinnell
Mr. Daniel Powell, in honor of all those that needlessly died because of the false promises of communism
H.E. Hermias Sahle-Selassie
Ms. Bounchanh Senthavong, in honor of the Union for Lao Nation & the Study & Research Center on Laos & Asia
Prof. Ilya Shapiro
Ms. Janie Shimer, in honor of all who have been victims of communism
M.M. Sieber, in honor of “My Family”
Ms. Sally Stegeman, in honor of freedom
Mr. & Mrs. Robert S. & Judy G. Stroud
Ms. Rita Supprise
Ms. Anna Wellisz, in honor of “my grandparents”