Victims of Communism Memorial

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Victims of Communism Memorial
Goddess of Democracy DC defy censorship.JPG
Victims of Communism Memorial is located in Washington, D.C.
Victims of Communism Memorial
Location within Washington, D.C.
Coordinates 38°53′54.56″N 77°0′43.39″W / 38.8984889°N 77.0120528°W / 38.8984889; -77.0120528
Location Washington, D.C.
Type Statue
Beginning date September 27, 2006
Opening date June 12, 2007

The Victims of Communism Memorial is a memorial in Washington, D.C. located at the intersection of Massachusetts and New Jersey Avenues and G Street, NW, two blocks from Union Station and within view of the U.S. Capitol.[1]

The memorial is dedicated "to the more than one hundred million victims of communism". The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation says the purpose of the memorial is to ensure "that the history of communist tyranny will be taught to future generations."[2]

The Victims of Communism Memorial was dedicated by President George W. Bush on June 12, 2007,[3] the 20th anniversary of President Ronald Reagan's "tear down this wall" speech in front of the Berlin Wall.

Background[edit]

A bill, H.R. 3000, sponsored by Representatives Dana Rohrabacher and Tom Lantos and Senators Claiborne Pell and Jesse Helms, to authorize the memorial passed unanimously on December 17, 1993 and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, becoming Public Law 103-199 Section 905. Because of delays in establishing the memorial, the authorization was subsequently extended through Section 326 of Public Law 105-277, approved October 21, 1998, until December 17, 2007. The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation has the duty of funding and directing the first stages of planning the memorial.

In November 2005, the National Capital Planning Commission gave approval to the monument's design. After raising over US$825,000 for construction and maintenance costs, the groundbreaking ceremony was held September 27, 2006.[4]

Dedication ceremony[edit]

U.S. President Bush dedicates the Victims of Communism Memorial

On June 12, 2007, the memorial was officially dedicated. Among the hundreds of invited guests were people from many countries who suffered hardships under Communist regimes, such as Vietnamese poet Nguyen Chi Thien, Chinese political prisoner Harry Wu, Lithuanian anti-communist journalist Nijolė Sadūnaitė and others.[5] During the opening ceremony, President George W. Bush named some of those who suffered from Communism in anonymity:

They include innocent Ukrainians starved to death in Stalin's Great Famine; or Russians killed in Stalin's purges; Lithuanians and Latvians and Estonians loaded onto cattle cars and deported to Arctic death camps of Soviet Communism. They include Chinese killed in the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution; Cambodians slain in Pol Pot's Killing Fields; East Germans shot attempting to scale the Berlin Wall in order to make it to freedom; Poles massacred in the Katyn Forest; and Ethiopians slaughtered in the "Red Terror"; Miskito Indians murdered by Nicaragua's Sandinista dictatorship; and Cuban balseros who drowned escaping tyranny.[3]

President Bush also said, "We'll never know the names of all who perished, but at this sacred place, communism's unknown victims will be consecrated to history and remembered forever. We dedicate this memorial because we have an obligation to those who died, to acknowledge their lives and honor their memory."[6] Bush equated communism to the threat of terrorism then facing America: "Like the Communists, the terrorists and radicals who have attacked our nation are followers of a murderous ideology that despises freedom, crushes all dissent, has expansionist ambitions and pursues totalitarian aims."[7]

On the first anniversary, there was another ceremony by the International Committee for Crimea.[8] On June 9, 2011, a second commemoration ceremony was held with representatives of ethnic and religious groups who suffered under communist regimes.[9]

Critical reaction[edit]

The Memorial features a ten-foot (3 m) bronze replica from photographs, of the Goddess of Democracy, erected by students during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.[10] The monument's design and the statue are works of sculptor Thomas Marsh.[11] He led a project in 1994, to re-create the Goddess of Democracy in Chinatown, San Francisco.[12][13] The inscription reads:

(front)To the more than one hundred million victims of communism and to those who love liberty

(rear) To the freedom and independence of all captive nations and peoples[10]

The Chicago Tribune reported the statue drew criticism from the Chinese embassy because the memorial evokes the Tiananmen Square protests. The embassy called its construction an "attempt to defame China." The chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, Lee Edwards, said he was not aware of any official complaint.[14]

In response to criticism of China at the dedication ceremony, a Chinese foreign ministry speaker accused the US of pushing a "Cold War" thought and meddling in China's internal affairs, and issued a formal protest.[15]

Professor Andrei P. Tsygankov of San Francisco State University identifies the building of the statue as an expression of the anti-Russia lobby in Washington. He identifies it as a revival of Cold War symbolism.[16]

According to Professor Shi Yinhong of the Center of American Studies at the People's University of China, the monument was inappropriate: "In the history of socialist countries such as China and the Soviet Union, there were many dramatic events. In the capitalist countries, many bad things have also happened, but we do not erect monuments to the victims of capitalism." [17]

A week after the unveiling of the monument and the speeches during the event, Russian President Vladimir Putin responded "We have not used nuclear weapons against a civilian population. We have not sprayed thousands of kilometers with chemicals, or dropped on a small country seven times more bombs than in all the Great Patriotic War."[17]

In China, the PRC Foreign Ministry lodged stern representations at the United States in response to the inauguration of the statue. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said that "there are political forces in the United States that still think in 'cold war' terms and seek to provoke conflicts between different ideologies and social systems." He added that there should be an end by the U.S. of "interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, do more to promote dialogue and cooperation.[18] Russian politician and legislator Gennady Zyuganov, leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation said that U.S. President Bush's appearance before the unveiling of the monument was a "clumsy propaganda attempt to divert the world public opinion's attention from the true, bloody crimes of U.S. imperialism in general and the current administration in the White House in particular." Zyuganov also added that the monument was inappropriate: "How can an American president open it given the blood of civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Serbs in Kosovo, Guantanamo Bay, as well as CIA prisons in Eastern Europe are part of the black list of crimes of the globalists." [19]

In Ukraine, there was a response to open a museum for U.S. imperialism in Simferopol. Communist Party leader Leonid Grach stated, "[It] Is our response to George Bush, who opened the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington, and to [pro-Western Ukrainian President] Viktor Yushchenko, who initiated the construction of the Museum of Soviet occupation in Kiev." The museum focused on the repression of Native Americans, slavery, and racism. The museum also highlights interventions in foreign countries.[20]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington, D.C.". dcMemorials.com. 24 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-25. 
  2. ^ "About the Foundation". Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. Retrieved 2011-07-25. 
  3. ^ a b "President Bush Attends Dedication of Victims of Communism Memorial" (Press release). Office of the Press Secretary. 12 June 2007. Retrieved 2011-07-25. 
  4. ^ "Victims of Communism Memorial". Global Museum on Communism. Retrieved 2011-07-26. 
  5. ^ Monika Bončkutė (14 June 2007). "Monumento komunizmo aukoms atidarymo iškilmėse-ir kovotojai už Lietuvos laisvę". Lyrtas.com News. Retrieved 2011-07-26. (In Lithuanian)
  6. ^ Heather Maher (13 June 2007). "U.S.: Bush Dedicates Memorial To Victims Of Communism". Radio Free Europe. Retrieved 2011-07-26. 
  7. ^ Fekeiki, Omar (June 13, 2007). "The Toll of Communism". The Washington Post. p. C01. Retrieved May 27, 2010. 
  8. ^ "The First Anniversary of the Victims of Communism Memorial". International Committee for Crimea. 25 June 2008. Retrieved 2011-07-26. 
  9. ^ Neil W. McCabe (7 June 2011). "Victims of Communism Remembered at June 9 Wreath Laying". Human Events. Retrieved 2011-07-26. 
  10. ^ a b Richard P. Poremski (3 July 2007). "Victims of Communism: Memorial". The Polish Site. Retrieved 2011-07-26. 
  11. ^ "Victims of Communism Memorial, (sculpture)". Smithsonian Institution Research Information System. 2007. Retrieved 2011-07-26. 
  12. ^ John Quinlan (15 June 2007). "Sioux City native creates centerpiece to Victims of Communism Memorial". Sioux City Journal. Retrieved 2011-07-26. 
  13. ^ John J. Miller (12 June 2007). "The Long Marsh". National Review. Retrieved 2011-07-26. 
  14. ^ Falk, Leora (June 12, 2007). "New DC memorial dedicated to communism's victims". Chicago Tribune. [dead link]
  15. ^ "China blasts Bush tribute to victims of communism". Reuters. 13 June 2007. Retrieved 2011-07-26. 
  16. ^ Andrei P. Tsygankov. Russophobia: anti-Russian lobby and American foreign policy. Macmillan, 2009. p.55
  17. ^ a b http://vesti7.ru/news?id=10827
  18. ^ http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2007-06/13/content_6238612.htm
  19. ^ http://www.newsru.com/russia/13jun2007/zyuganov.html
  20. ^ http://en.rian.ru/world/20070821/73004087.html

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°53′54.56″N 77°0′43.39″W / 38.8984889°N 77.0120528°W / 38.8984889; -77.0120528