(Delivered August 2, 2006)
LEE EDWARDS, Ph.D.: It is a grave failing of our age that
the full extent of Communism's inhumanity to man is not known.
Who knows that the Soviet Union murdered 20 million people
through mock trials, purges, famines, and the infamous Gulag?
Who knows that Mao Zedong and the other Chinese Communist
leaders have slaughtered an estimated 50 million people through the
Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, the Tiananmen
massacre, and the Chinese version of the Gulag-the Laogai?
Who knows that Fidel Castro has executed thousands of political
prisoners since coming to power in 1959 and continues to silence
any open opposition to his rule?
Who knows that the Communist plague has exacted a death
toll surpassing that of all the wars of the 20th century
This tragic oversight must be corrected. A Memorial to the more
than 100 million victims of Communism must be built-and it will be.
Groundbreaking for the Memorial, located on Capitol Hill just three
blocks from here, is scheduled for next month. [Editor's
Note: The groundbreaking is scheduled for September 27,
The Memorial will feature a 10-foot-high bronze replica of the
Goddess of Democracy statue erected by Chinese students in
Tiananmen Square in the spring of 1989 and then destroyed by
Chinese Communist tanks. The statue was based on our own
Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.
On the front pedestal of the Memorial statue will be the words:
"To the more than one hundred million victims of Communism and to
those who love liberty."
On the back pedestal will be the words: "To the freedom and
independence of all captive nations and peoples."
These words will serve to remind visitors that one-fifth of the
world's population still lives, and not by their choice, under
You and I are blessed to live in a free society. We have never
had to worry about a knock on the door in the middle of the night
and the secret police dragging us from our home. We have never had
to endure the horrors of so-called reeducation camps that break the
bodies and minds of dissidents. We have never seen families,
communities, whole cities, eliminated at the order of a
But for many millions of people over the past century these
horrors were a daily fact of life.
Once asked who were the victims of Communism, a former
occupant of the Soviet Gulag replied, "Everyone who lived in the
20th century was a victim of Communism."
As Anne Applebaum, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of
Gulag, wrote, mere statistics cannot reflect "the cumulative
impact of Stalin's repressions on the life and health of whole
Consider: A man was tried and shot as an "enemy of the
people." His wife was taken to a camp as a "member of an enemy's
family." His children grew up in orphanages and joined criminal
gangs. His mother died of stress and grief. His cousins and aunts
and uncles cut off all contact with one another in order not
to be tainted. Fear weighed heavily on those left behind, even when
they did not die.
Today, 50 years after Stalin died, the remaining Communist
dictatorships perpetuate the Leninist legacy of fear and
intimidation, as you will hear from our distinguished panelists
There is one aspect of the Leninist legacy that directly affects
every American today.
It is a fact, documented by the terrorism expert Michael Waller,
that the U.S.S.R. and its proxies armed and built the international
terrorist networks of the 1960s through the 1980s. The states
supporting international terrorism are mainly former Soviet client
regimes, including Cuba, North Korea, and Syria under the Assad
family. It is a fact that Soviet sponsorship of Yasser Arafat and
the PLO allowed Moscow to gain influence over terrorist groups like
If the Communist-coordinated terrorists had been squashed or had
never existed, Dr. Waller concludes, in all likelihood the world
would not be plagued by the present-day terrorism of Hezbollah,
Hamas, al-Qaeda, and the other violent organizations that commit
mass murder in the name of God.
Beyond dispute, the specter of Communism still haunts the
world-even in America's largest city. A popular nightclub in New
York City's East Village is the KGB Bar. The place is jammed nearly
every night and especially on Sundays when writers read from their
latest works under the club's symbol- the Hammer and Sickle. How
long, I wonder, would a New York nightclub last if its name were
The Gestapo and there was a large swastika on the wall?
Clearly, there is an urgent need for a Memorial to the victims
of Communism. And Washington is the right city for such a Memorial
because this city offers so many reminders of the history of our
nation and the world.
In the past decade, we have seen the dedication of a memorial
museum about the Jewish Holocaust as well as a memorial to the
veterans of World War II. There are fitting tributes to the men and
women who died in the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
The Memorial to the victims of Communism will be a key part of
this historical picture and will help illustrate why we fought and
won the Cold War.
Visitors to the Memorial will remember the Hungarian
patriots killed by Soviet troops and tanks in 1956. They will
remember those who struggled for more than a quarter of a century
to escape the concrete and barbed wire of the Berlin Wall.
They will remember the brave "boat people" of Vietnam and Cuba who
risked everything to gain freedom.
We cannot, we must not allow history to forget those who died
and are still dying under Communism.
Our Jewish brothers and sisters understand what is at stake.
They understand that history must not be forgotten lest it be
repeated. They keep reminding the world of the Holocaust, crying,
As Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, said last week
here in Washington, "What is the alternative? Not to tell the
story? To let truth vanish? To let truth disappear together with
the victims?" There can be only one answer to such questions.
We must remember and we must memorialize the sacrifice of more
than 100 million victims of Communism so that never again will
nations and peoples permit so evil a tyranny to terrorize the
Lee Edwards, Ph.D.,
is Distinguished Fellow in Conservative Thought at The Heritage
Foundation, and Chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial
FRANK CALZON: I think it was Martin Luther King who said
that all of us were likely to forget our enemies, but it is very
difficult to forget some of our friends who remained silent when
terrible things were happening. And that's why I appreciate the
invitation and the work of Lee Edwards, and I am particularly
honored to be here with Harry Wu and Paul Goble to talk here
Cuba remains a Communist country. Despite Fidel Castro's
illness, little has changed. Cuba has the characteristics of both a
traditional right wing and traditional Latin American dictatorship,
and imposed upon that is the whole baggage of repression,
despair, economic inefficiency of the Communist model.
The model we're looking at in Cuba today is not new. There's an
island near Cuba-the Spanish called it Española
(Hispaniola); the Dominican Republic and Haiti share the island. In
both of those nations, in the 20th century, there were efforts to
keep a dictatorship in place under a family. So whether it was
Trujillo or Papa Doc, the idea was that once he either died or
something happened to him, then somebody else in the family
could step up and take control. Castro, like Papa Doc, is President
The model that Cubans would like to see- Cubans in Cuba and the
almost 2 million Cubans who live abroad-is a kind of transition
that the Czechs were fortunate to have. The idea of a
peaceful, bloodless transition to democracy, the rule of law,
respect for human rights, multiple political parties. The
transition that Fidel Castro and his brother Raul would like to
have is the kind of transition that we saw in North Korea after the
death of the dictator and the assumption of power by his son.
I am a little optimistic about Cuba because, while North Korea
is right next to China, Cuba is 90 miles away from the United
States, and perhaps the Cuban situation is a little bit more open
than the North Korean situation.
This reminds me of a little story that Harry Wu told me in
Geneva at one time. When I worked for Freedom House we were honored
to sponsor a couple of events in which Harry talked about the
despair, the repression, the yearning for freedom of his people.
Harry used to say to me, "You know, Frank, look at it this way: the
dictators open up their window a little bit and the flies fly in."
And he said, "We are those flies. We are the flies who get in there
with the publications, with the letters, with the books, with the
short wave radios, with a message of hope."
I always feel that it's terribly important for any of us who
defend freedom, whether it is in Cuba or in Burma or in any part of
the world, to acknowledge the fact that the struggle for freedom is
universal. If you are in favor of freedom in Burma, then you have
to be in favor of freedom in Tibet or in Cuba. You're not simply
against a dictator of the right or a dictator of the left, but like
Harry Wu has said, and Vaclav Havel has repeated, and Lech Walesa
has said, we are in favor of the human spirit. And that's why the
dictators think of us in the terms that they do.
A dictatorship of any kind always is based, not only in fear and
terror, but in trying to label those who think differently as less
than human. We saw that, of course, in Nazi Germany, and in some
fashion we saw that in South Africa. Some people will remind
me that something similar to that happened in the American South,
not too long ago, where human beings were given a label. Those who
fight for freedom in China, I'm sure, are depicted in very negative
terms. In Cuba's case, Cubans who disagree with Mr. Castro,
are "lackeys of the United States," "agents of the CIA,"
"terrorists," "bootlickers of the Yankees," "Gusanos" (gusano
is a worm that you step on). So, you can see that it is easier for
someone to beat up some one who is different. Maybe that different
person at one time was Jewish, maybe another time was Black. Today
in Burma and China and Belarus and Cuba, the victims are folks who
dare to say what most people around them are only willing to think.
Their struggle, their fight, is not only important for them, but
it's important for all of us.
I remember visiting Havel in Prague many years ago. There was an
important contract in play and the Chinese government was very
upset about some things that President Havel had said. Some of the
practical people in Prague were telling the Czech president,
"You've got to be careful about what you say because this could
mean losing millions of dollars for Czech companies." Luckily,
the Czech president felt that although commercial interests are
important, the national interest of his people, of his nation, were
well beyond whether a company had some profit or not.
In Cuba's case, the idea of trading with Cuba continues to be a
matter of discussion in Washington. I think there's a little
confusion about this whole discussion. Most people do not know that
American companies can now trade with Cuba. American companies sell
hundreds of millions of dollars in grain to Cuba. The restriction
is that Cuba/Castro needs to pay for it. I think we all should be
in favor of that, because if that restriction was not in place,
then the American taxpayers would have to pay for that.
In Paris and in other places there are long lists of Castro's
creditors who have not been paid since 1986, before the collapse of
the Berlin Wall. And what some American companies would like to see
is for credits, export insurance to facilitate this trade, which as
Condoleezza Rice has said, is not really trade with Cuba, it's
simply trade with Castro. When an American company trades,
say, with Costa Rica, with Mexico, with Belgium, they trade with
other folks like them. They have a company, have a business. In
Cuba every business is through the government, through the state.
As in the case of China, labor conditions are horrible. Most Cubans
get paid around $15 a month. Some companies pay Castro $10,000 a
year for a worker. And then Castro pays the workers there an
equivalent of $10 or $15 a month.
I would like to urge you to go beyond the slogans and look a
little bit into the discussion of Cuba, because most companies that
do business in Cuba believe that they go there and they acquire a
customer. Castro doesn't believe that he is doing
business. Castro believes that he's purchasing influence so
that anybody who deals in Cuba (I assume the same happens in China)
then becomes a lobbyist, an advocate of the dictatorship here in
Washington. This business interest then would go to the
Congress and say, if you pass a resolution on human rights on
this country, then our business interests will be in peril. That's
an aspect that we need to take into account.
Finally, I would like to suggest to all of you that while it is
easy to take for granted the freedoms that you have, you want to do
what folks like you are not allowed to do in places like China, or
places like Cuba, places like Belarus, or Burma. To begin with I
haven't seen any of you looking back to see who's sitting
behind you, or if somebody's waiting outside the door. When you get
out of this meeting, nobody's going to tell you that you're going
to be expelled from school, or your parents will lose their
This is what I would like you to do. After you leave here today,
why not write a "Letter to the Editor"? I think if the
Washington Post were to receive 50 letters today, at least
one or two of them would probably get published. Why not send a
note to your Congressman-you are probably from various
states-saying, I heard Harry Wu at Heritage today and he spoke
about the harvesting of organs. This is the unspeakable practice
that takes place in China where people who are condemned to be
executed are held until their heart or one of their organs is
needed, and then they are killed so that one of those organs could
be pulled out and give to somebody else.
That's the nature of the regimes that we are dealing with.
It is easy to talk in terms of geopolitics, or corporate profits,
of not paying attention to these "nations" that were taken over by
the Russians. They used to say that the captive nations were to
remain captive forever-but they did not. We hope with your help the
other captive nations, China, Belarus, Burma, and others, also will
be free one day.
Frank Calzon is Executive Director of
the Center for a Free Cuba.
PAUL GOBLE: President Bush is absolutely right in saying
that we live at a time where freedom has been spreading to many
places where it has never been seen before. But Ambassador Lev
Dobriansky is also correct to note that this spread neither has
been nor is now without much struggle and many reversals.
Unfortunately, in talking about the Russian Federation of
today, both reversals and the need to struggle against them are
very much in evidence.
First, there are still three peoples named in the original 1959
Captive Nations Week resolution that remain dominated by Moscow
despite the wishes of their populations: the North Caucasus, the
Middle Volga (Idel-Ural), and the lands of the Cossacks. Not only
do these areas remain under the thumb of many who often are the
same people who ran things in Communist times, but they are in many
cases being subjected to greater pressure today than they were a
Second, if we are serious about the original definition of
"captive" nations, there are now more of them-that is, more people
living with less freedom and under the control of those they
did not choose-than there were a decade ago. For all too many
peoples in the Russian Federation today, there is less freedom of
religion, less freedom of speech, less freedom of assembly, and
less freedom to choose their rulers than there was even at the end
of the Soviet period.
Third, all too often we focus only on the more than 100 million
people that Communist regimes killed. We cannot and must not ever
forget them. But we also need to remember the other victims, whose
hearts, minds, and souls were destroyed by Communist dictatorships
but who nonetheless continue to survive and in some cases to rule.
We did not insist on decommunization of the former Soviet states as
we did on denazification in Germany after 1945. As a result,
most of these countries are currently run by people who might have
been in power even if 1989 and 1991 had never happened. And many in
the populations of these countries remain infected by the kind of
evil that Captive Nations Week was intended to remind us of.
Consequently, it is too early to celebrate the triumph of
Captive Nations Week. There have been victories. But we have not
won through everywhere. All too often, we have declared
victory-in the Russian Federation a decade ago and in Georgia and
Ukraine more recently-and only later discovered that such
triumphs, however sweet and valuable, were not only incomplete
Ideologists near the Kremlin understand that, and consequently,
they pay attention to this 48th commemoration of Captive Nations
Week. It is time that we did as well-and shift from
celebrating the triumphs of the past to facing up to the
challenges we need to meet now and in the future.
Paul Goble is formerly with the Voice
of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
HARRY WU: In a meeting with the Nazi-hunter Simon
Wiesenthal 10 years ago, he said, "The ideology of Communism
is not a crime; however, its implementation is a crime." We are
here today to remember the victims of Communism and to remind the
international community that its crimes are alive and well today.
The evidence is ever present in China, Cuba, and many former Soviet
republics. The rulers and time periods are different, but the
ideologies, the tools of oppression, and the end goals are the
same: to eliminate the enemies of the regime to retain power.
The first step is to decide who are the regime's enemies, to
publicly identify individuals to work toward their elimination. A
common tool of oppression has been labor and death camps;
major examples are the Soviet Gulag, the Nazi concentration
camps, and China's Laogai camps. Polish Jew Raphael Lemkin coined
the term "genocide" to describe Nazi Germany's widespread massacre.
The definition of genocide as put forth in the United Nations
Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of
Genocide is "acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or
in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group," not
limited to killing, but also including mental harm and restrictions
on people's lives. Since 1951, genocide has been used to describe
the events in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. Communist regimes
have generated their own brand of genocide that I call
"classicide." The Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) actions are
fundamentally the same as genocide, and the atrocities
committed have not only been widespread and long term, the methods
and styles used have been unusually brutal. These are facts that
the international community cannot forget or ignore.
According to Revolutionary Communist theory, society is composed
of two groups of people: the exploiting class and the exploited
class. In China, although the CCP seized power in 1949, the
Revolution was far from over. All people and things
representing the old regime had to be thoroughly destroyed via
a class struggle. From 1927 to 1976 the CCP began by grouping
people according to economic status. In the countryside, you were
either of the landlord and rich peasant class or the middle and
poor peasant class. In the cities, you were either bourgeoisie and
capitalist or working class. Those who had the misfortune of being
members of the landlord or bourgeoisie classes, even children,
were treated as second-class citizens.
In the countryside, many thousands of landlords and rich
peasants were beaten to death during the "Land Reform Movement,"
from 1927 to 1952. The CCP confiscated land and denied this group
access to education and employment opportunities. In the cities,
those in the exploiting class were stripped of their possessions.
Those in the exploiting class were forced to do hard labor in order
to "obey the teachings of the party, thoroughly remold
themselves, and reform their thinking." On August 18, 1966, in
Beijing, Mao Zedong began the Great Proletarian Cultural
Revolution urging the junior cadres of the Communist Party,
who formed the "Red Guards" to "make revolution." The Guards began
harassing people in schools and eventually took to the streets to
eliminate what was left of the exploiting class.
One incident during the Cultural Revolution in Beijing's Daxing
County epitomizes the essence of classicide in China. After the Red
Guards obtained records to find out every individual's "class
background," they seized those from the landlord and rich
peasant classes and slaughtered them one by one. A total of 168
people were killed including a 38-day-old baby. The massacre was
sanctioned by the CCP and was carried out while the Guards were
waving the little red book, Revolutionary Quotations of Mao
Zedong. Afterwards, the Red Guards celebrated, declaring
that Daxing County was now a "Red Proletarian Revolution
Paradise"-meaning free of class enemies.
I mention this incident not merely because it was an extreme
case that happened only once. On the contrary, what happened in
Daxing County happened all over China to innocent people and
children. Between August 18 and the end of September 1966, 1,714 of
the "five black elements" were beaten, many to death, had their
homes searched and their property confiscated, and were "swept
out the door" and sent off to the Laogai. There are no statistics
as to how many people were affected as the entire truth has yet to
be revealed. Some research has shown that around the time of 1949,
there were around 10 to 15 million members of the landlord and rich
peasant classes nationwide. By the 1970s, after the
Cultural Revolution, only 10 to 15 percent remained of this
number. What is more alarming is that, as of yet, no one has been
put on trial for these crimes.
From the CCP's inception to the late 1970s, an individual's
class background determined his quality of life. When a
criminal judgment was made, class background was a key deciding
factor. For example, if someone to prevent starvation stole 20
kilograms of corn from a People's Commune, his sentence would
differ depending on his class. A member of the landlord class would
be punished for a political crime of "damaging the people's
commune and being hostile to the socialist system," while a
member of the peasant class would have committed the mistake of
"going down the wrong road because of being influenced by the
exploiting class." In the 1980s the CCP made new policies in an
attempt to remove the labels of "landlord" and "rich peasant."
However, this gesture was meaningless as nearly all members of
these classes, especially in the countryside, had been
exterminated during the preceding 30 years. Moreover, although none
of the major figures involved in the Tiananmen Square
demonstrations was a member of the "former" bourgeoisie class, the
CCP labeled the incident a "bourgeoisie disturbance."
Like the Jews in Nazi Germany, the Tutsis in Rwanda, and the
Muslims in Yugoslavia, certain groups of Chinese people never
violated any criminal laws but were punished and murdered
simply because they were considered a threat to the ruling party's
power. Systematic discrimination became a means to create a
single-class society in Communist China, a society that the
government could easily control. Therefore, the goals of "genocide"
and "classicide" are the same and both are atrocities that violate
basic human rights.
I witnessed this classicide first hand as a youth in China. I
was arrested as a young student at the Beijing Geology College for
speaking out against the Soviet invasion of Hungary and criticizing
the Chinese Communist Party. In 1960, I was sentenced to serve
in the Laogai for being a "counter-revolutionary rightist." During
the next 19 years, I was imprisoned in 12 different forced-labor
camps around China, where I was forced to manufacture
chemicals, mine coal, build roads, clear land, as well as plant and
harvest crops. I survived beatings, torture, and starvation, and
witnessed the death of many fellow prisoners from brutality,
disease, starvation, and suicide. The slogan found at the
gates of the CCP's Laogai, "Labor makes a new life" is
frighteningly similar to the Nazis concentration camp slogan,
"Labor makes you free." Today about 3 to 5 million people suffer in
the Laogai camps. Yet little is known about the Laogai, which is
comparable to the Soviet Gulag. Only by making the word "Laogai"
public by printing it in every dictionary in every language
can the injustices of the Laogai be understood.
Today, the enemies of the CCP have changed. They are no longer
certain classes of people such as landlords or bourgeoisie. On the
contrary, the government has embraced wealth, foreign
investment, and capitalism. Rather, today the CCP's enemies are
freedom, democracy, and the rule of law. The CCP continues to
stifle freedom of speech, expression, religion, and the press in
order to maintain control. People who protest government policies
are beaten and thrown in prison without trial. Internet Web sites
and news sources are frequently shut down and censored. Executed
prisoners' organs are being harvested without consent and sold for
thousands of dollars in China and abroad.
The world cannot ignore the reality of Communist China
today. The world cannot forget the nations and the people held
captive by Communism. Even if China became democratic
tomorrow, we cannot forget its past and its people.
Harry Wu is Executive Director of the
Laogai Research Foundation.