2019 Captive Nations Week
The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC) marked Captive Nations Week with the Captive Nations Week Summit on Capitol Hill, the fourth annual National Seminar for Middle & High School Educators, and the "Victims of Venezuela's Dictatorship" Photo Exhibition at the Organization of American States.
The White House issued a Presidential Proclamation for Captive Nations Week, stating, "During Captive Nations Week, we reaffirm our Nation’s unwavering support for those who strive to be free from oppression. We condemn repressive regimes that deny people their God-given rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." >>>Full text here.
Captive Nations Week Summit on Capitol Hill
On July 15, in conjunction with the second annual Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom hosted by the US Department of State, VOC convened the Captive Nations Week Summit on Capitol Hill where policymakers and human rights advocates heard first-hand from witnesses of the captive nations of China, Cuba, Hong Kong, Laos, Nicaragua, North Korea, Venezuela, andVietnam.
Featured participants included Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Co-Chair of the Victims of Communism Caucus Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Vietnam Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Organization of American States Sec. Gen. Luis Almagro, Ambassador of Venezuela to the United States of the US-recognized interim government of Juan Guaidó Amb. Carlos Vecchio, VOC Trustee Amb. Paula Dobriansky, Hong Kong Watch Chairman Benedict Rogers, and exiled Vietnamese blogger and 2019 Victims of Communism Human Rights Award laureate Mother Mushroom.
Mother Mushroom Awarded Victims of Communism Human Rights Award
Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh, a.k.a. “Mother Mushroom," was awarded the Victims of Communism Human Rights Award for her bravery and her advocacy for human rights in Vietnam.
Quỳnh began blogging about social issues in Vietnam in 2006 under the pen name Mother Mushroom. Targeted by communist authorities for writing about corruption and human rights violations, she was arrested in 2009 for exposing government land appropriations under a China-backed mining deal. In October 2016, while trying to visit an imprisoned political activist, she was detained, jailed, and given a 10-year sentence for “propagandizing against the state.” Denied legal representation, Quỳnh went on hunger strike. In 2017, the US State Department gave her its International Women of Courage Award in absentia. On October 17, 2018, having served over two years in prison, she was released and allowed to travel to the United States, where she was reunited with her two children and elderly mother. They now live in Houston, Texas.
Members of Congress and Leading International Policymakers Respond
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) remarked, "Currently, one-fifth of the world's population suffers under communist rule—Whether it is China's communist party persecuting Christians, Uyghurs, and Falun Gong practitioners, or Venezuela's military oppression under the illegitimate regime of Nicholas Maduro, or the Castros in Cuba who tortured my tía Sonia and so many more."
Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) remarked, "I am proud to stand with you as the Co-Chair of the bipartisan Caucus for the Victims of Communism. This week is important to us as we come together to raise awareness of those suffering under the brutal tyranny around the world and how we can make a difference for millions longing for freedom."
Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) recognized Mother Mushroom for receiving the Victims of Communism Human Rights Award and remarked, “We must oppose countries, like Vietnam, who deny their citizens their religious freedom.”
US-Recognized Venezuelan Ambassador Praises VOC
Amb. Carlos Vecchio, Ambassador of Venezuela to the United States of the US-recognized interim government of Juan Guaidó, speaks at the Captive Nations Week Summit.
Amb. Carlos Vecchio, Ambassador of Venezuela to the United States of the US-recognized interim government of Juan Guaidó remarked, "I remember when I arrived to exile, Victims of Communism was among the first organizations to support our fight."
"After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, more walls need to fall around the world. The fight to defeat the Venezuelan dictatorship is an opportunity to tear down now and forever the wall of communism in Latin America. We need to free Venezuela and ensure that Latin America is a free continent, with freedom and dignity for all."
OAS Sec. Gen. Almagro Links Venezuela Crisis to Cuba
Secretary General Luis Almagro remarked, “For 60 years, Cuba has been and is the poster child of a captive nation. The communist Cuban regime not only represses, enslaves, tortures, assassinates, persecutes, intimidates, and forces into exile its own people, but it also exports and expands their totalitarian practices to the rest of the region. It is not a coincidence that a new dictatorship emerged in the 21st century in Latin America. All bad practices in the region can be traced back to Cuba, and they are specially to blame for the Venezuelan crisis. If we want a hemisphere with no captive nations and no captive peoples, then we should do everything we can to democratize Cuba.
Summit Features Three Panels
Captive Nations of Latin America
John Suarez, Center for a FREE Cuba, Executive Director
Dr. Carlos Ponce, VOC, Director of Latin American Programs
María C. Werlau, Cuba Archive, Executive Director
Ana Quintana, The Heritage Foundation, Senior Policy Analyst
Captive Nations of China and North Korea
Rushan Abbas, Campaign for Uyghurs, Founder & Director
Bob Fu, ChinaAid, President
Greg Scarlatoiu, Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, Executive Director
Dr. Suzanne Scholte, Defense Forum Foundation, President
Olivia Enos, The Heritage Foundation, Senior Policy Analyst
Captive Nations of South East Asia
Gymbay Moua, Congress of World Hmong People
Huy Nguyen, Next Generations of the Republic of Vietnam Organization, President
Dr. Hung Tran, Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, Member
Dr. Murray Bessette, VOC, Director of Academic Programs
Victims of Venezuela's Dictatorship Photo Exhibition
On Monday, July 8, the "Victims of Venezuela's Dictatorship" photo exhibition—photos from award-winning photographers covering the humanitarian crisis and the crimes against humanity in Venezuela—premiered at the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, D.C. The exhibition was co-hosted by Freedom House, the Organization of American States, Un Mundo Sin Mordaza, and the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.
Speakers at the opening reception included OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, Organization of American States Ambassador and Venezuelan Representative Gustavo Tarre, VOC Executive Director Marion Smith, and President of Un Mundo Sin Mordaza Rodrigo Diamanti.