A memorial event in the nation’s capital on June 9 honored the millions of people around the world who have lost their lives under communism in the past century.
The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC) held its 16th annual wreath-laying ceremony, which brought together embassies, representatives of captive nations, and human rights organizations.
The event honored the more than 100 million victims of communism over the past century, as well as those who still suffer under communist regimes, such as in China.
During his remarks at the ceremony, Lee Edwards, the organization’s founding chairman, emphasized the importance of not overlooking the sacrifices made by people who suffered under communist regimes.
“We are resolved to keep coming back to the memorial every June until that inevitable day when we know that China is free, Cuba is free, Vietnam is free, North Korea is free, and Laos is free,” Edwards said, noting that more than 1.5 billion people live under these repressive communist regimes.
“Just as the Berlin Wall fell and the evil empire collapsed, we are confident that communism will wind up on the ash heap of history, and all the captive nations will be captive no more.”The VOC is a nonprofit organization established by bipartisan legislation that was signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993.
More Awareness NeededVOC Chairman Elizabeth Edwards Spalding said that more must be done to inform the public and raise awareness about the perils of communism.
“There will be a victory. It’s just that we have to keep working toward it,” Spalding told The Epoch Times. “There’s a lot of ignorance out there.”
Spalding noted that the collapse of the Soviet Union did not mark the end of communism nor the threats it posed. And in addition to the public, the leaders of the free world need a better understanding of communism, she said.
“I think that President Biden himself typically has very good instincts, and I’d like him to be able to speak out more” against communism, Spalding said.
“I would call on all of our world leaders to realize that politics is ultimately based on ethics,” she said, as she urged Western governments and companies to disinvest from China.
"Let’s move past the policies that were never correct, that were broken, and really encourage people to disinvest from the PRC. And that will be one way to keep chipping away at the Chinese Communist Party."
The ceremony took place at the Victims of Communism Memorial statue near the U.S. Capitol. The figure is a replica of the Goddess of Democracy statue, which was created by protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989 but was later destroyed by the Chinese Communist Party during a violent clampdown.
Cuba, Laos, North Korea, Vietnam, and Venezuela are the countries where communism persists today, alongside China.
Even in nations where communism is not the dominant political system, socialist and communist ideas continue to influence government policies and social movements.
At this year’s event, Bhuchung Tsering, a Tibetan writer and human rights activist, was awarded the Truman–Reagan Medal of Freedom for his efforts to bring freedom and democracy to Tibetans living under communist tyranny.
Last year, the foundation opened the Victims of Communism Museum in Washington. According to Ken Pope, CEO of the foundation, the objective of the VOC and the museum is to educate people and change perceptions about communism in American classrooms.
“Especially students and some teachers seem to have a romanticized vision of what socialism and communism really are,” Pope told The Epoch Times.
He cited China’s communist leadership as an example of a regime that engages in atrocities such as genocide, reeducation camps, sterilizations, and forced organ harvesting.
“Our mission really is to educate American citizens and citizens around the world about the true history of communism,” Pope said.