Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation

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Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation
Founded 1994
Founders
Type Non-profit
Focus Education, human rights
Location
Key people
Website http://www.victimsofcommunism.org

The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation is a non-profit educational and human rights organization in the United States, authorized by a unanimous Act of Congress in 1993 for the purpose of educating Americans about the ideology, history and legacy of communism.[3] The foundation was responsible for building the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington, D.C. It is a member of the Platform of European Memory and Conscience.

History[edit]

In 1991, Senator Steve Symms and Representative Dana Rohrabacher introduced concurring resolutions in the United States Congress urging the construction of "an International Memorial to the Victims of Communism at an appropriate location within the boundaries of the District of Columbia and for the appointment of a commission to oversee the design, construction and all other pertinent details of the memorial."[4][5]

In 1993, Rohrabacher and Senator Jesse Helms sponsored amendments to The Friendship Act which authorized such construction.[6] The Act was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on December 17, 1993.[7] The Act cited "the deaths of over 100,000,000 victims in an unprecedented imperial holocaust," and resolved that "the sacrifices of these victims should be permanently memorialized so that never again will nations and peoples allow so evil a tyranny to terrorize the world."[3]

The Victims of Communism Memorial. The statue is a recreation by Thomas Marsh of the "Goddess of Democracy", which was destroyed in Tiananmen Square by the government of the People's Republic of China

According to Title IX, Section 905 of Public Law 103-199, an independent organization was to be established to construct, maintain and operate the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington, D.C., as well as to collect the contributions for the establishment of the memorial and to encourage the participation of all groups suffered under communism.[8]

In 2007, the foundation completed the Victims of Communism Memorial, which was dedicated by President George W. Bush.[9]

In 2016, the foundation planned human rights protests during President Barack Obama's visit to Cuba. During Obama's visit, the foundation published a list of 51 "prisoners of conscience" that it aimed to have released by Raúl Castro.[10]

Programs[edit]

Victims of Communism Memorial[edit]

The memorial was dedicated on June 12, 2007 — the 20th anniversary of President Ronald Reagan's "Tear down this wall" speech in Berlin. The unveiling of the statue in Washington DC earned international press attention.[11]

The land was a gift of the US Parks Service, and the remaining cost, over $1 million, was raised from private sources.[12] Sculpted by Thomas Marsh, it is a 10-foot bronze replica of the Papier-mâché Goddess of Democracy statue made by student democracy protesters leading up to the Tiananmenn Square Massacre in 1989.[13]

Museum[edit]

The foundation aims to build a museum in Washington, D.C.[1] The foundation is working on a proposed budget for a museum near the National Mall, and has received a $1 million grant toward the museum from the government of Hungary.[2] Plans for the museum include exhibit space, an auditorium, archives, and resident scholars.[14][15]

Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom[edit]

The Foundation annually presents its Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom at an event which honors opponents of communism, and has been used to raise funds for the construction of the memorial.[16] Past recipients include Myroslav Marynovych, Chen Guangcheng, Tom Lantos, Pope John Paul II, Vaclav Havel, Fr. Nguyen Van Ly, Elena Bonner, William F. Buckley, Jr., Guillermo Fariñas, Lane Kirkland, Armando Valladares, János Horváth, Lech Wałęsa, Anna Walentynowicz, National Endowment for Democracy, and Henry "Scoop" Jackson.[16][17][18][19][20]

Other projects[edit]

In 2015, the foundation released a biopic video series called Witness Project, featuring interviews with witnesses of communism.[21]

People[edit]

Chairman Lee Edwards

The chairman is Lee Edwards. Its chairman emeritus was Lev Dobriansky (deceased). The national advisory council includes Dennis DeConcini, Paul Hollander, Richard Pipes, John K. Singlaub, John Earl Haynes, and George Weigel. Former (deceased) members include Robert Conquest, Rudolph Rummel, and Jack Kemp.[22]

The international advisory council includes Sali Berisha, Vladimir Bukovsky, Emil Constantinescu, Mart Laar, Vytautas Landsbergis, Guntis Ulmanis, Armando Valladares, and Lech Walesa. Former members include Yelena Bonner, Brian Crozier, Árpád Göncz, and Václav Havel.[22]

Criticism[edit]

Stephen F. Cohen a Russian studies scholar at Princeton University has criticized the foundation's plans for a museum, saying "with this kind of hyperbole, with money coming from people sermonizing against Communism, it's hard to imagine it as a serious research center."[1]

After the dedication of the foundation's Victims of Communism Memorial, the Chinese Communist Party's Foreign Ministry Spokesman expressed opposition towards the United States and suggested that the U.S. "Stop interfering in other countries domestic affairs."[9]

In 2016, the foundation received criticism from the Chinese Foreign Ministry for awarding Dolkun Isa, a Uyghur democracy activist from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, an award for "his dedicated human rights advocacy."[23] Chinese officials issued a démarche and a statement referring to Isa as a terrorist, a claim that remained unsupported.[24]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Smith, Dinitia (December 23, 1995). "For the Victims of Communism". The New York Times. Retrieved November 4, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b Kilmas, Jacqueline (June 17, 2014). "Cold War Casualties of Communism Seek Museum on National Mall". The Washington Times. Retrieved May 18, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Rauch, Jonathan (December 2003). "The Forgotten Millions". The Atlantic. Retrieved November 4, 2009. 
  4. ^ "S. CON. RES. 55". thomas.loc.gov. Library of Congress. Retrieved November 5, 2009. 
  5. ^ "H. CON. RES. 228". thomas.loc.gov. Library of Congress. Retrieved November 5, 2009. 
  6. ^ "U.S. Laws Catch Up to the New Russia". The New York Times. November 29, 1993. Retrieved November 5, 2009. 
  7. ^ "Bill Summary and Status". thomas.loc.gov. Library of Congress. Retrieved November 5, 2009. 
  8. ^ Public Law 103-199
  9. ^ a b "China Blasts Bush Tribute to Victims of Communism". Reuters. June 13, 2007. Retrieved May 18, 2016. 
  10. ^ Rhodan, Maya (March 21, 2016). "Advocates List Cuba's Political Prisoners After Castro Says There Are None". Time. Retrieved May 18, 2016. 
  11. ^ "Bush Blames 100 Million Deaths on Communists". Kommersant. June 13, 2007. Archived from the original on October 10, 2012. Retrieved May 18, 2016. 
  12. ^ Butler, Don (March 6, 2015). "A tale of Two Monuments: Washington vs. Ottawa". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved May 18, 2016. 
  13. ^ Miller, John (December 12, 2005). "Memorial Day: Honoring the victims of Communism". The National Review. Retrieved November 4, 2009. 
  14. ^ Last, Jonathan (December 1, 2014). "First a Memorial, Then a Museum". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved May 18, 2016. 
  15. ^ Kirchick, James (August 25, 2014). "Communism's Victims Deserve a Museum". The Daily Beast. Retrieved May 18, 2016. 
  16. ^ a b Clyne, Meghan (December 13, 2005). "D.C. Monument To Be Built In Honor of Victims of Communism". The New York Sun. Retrieved November 4, 2009. 
  17. ^ Nordlinger, Jay (July 7, 2014). "Living Not By Lies". National Review. Retrieved May 18, 2016. 
  18. ^ Nordlinger, Jay (July 25, 2014). "Sweet Solidarity, Part II". National Review. Retrieved May 18, 2016. 
  19. ^ "Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom". Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. Retrieved May 18, 2016. 
  20. ^ "Chinese Dissident Receives Political Award in Washington". Asia Times. November 16, 2015. Retrieved May 18, 2016. 
  21. ^ Abigail Clevenger (May 8, 2014). Philanthropy Daily About Communism http://www.philanthropydaily.com/what-about-communism/%7Ctitle=What About Communism Check |url= value (help). Retrieved May 24, 2016.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  22. ^ a b "Board & Advisory Councils". Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. Retrieved May 18, 2016. 
  23. ^ "China Slams US NGO Award for Uighur Dissident". Daily Mail. April 1, 2016. Retrieved May 18, 2016. 
  24. ^ Lake, Eli; Rogin, Josh (March 31, 2016). "Xi's Visit Crashed by One of His Victims". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 18, 2016.