As Donald J. Trump is inaugurated President of the United States and begins his first day in office, we have a message for him. This message comes not just from the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, but from harassed dissidents, persecuted activists, and prisoners of conscience across the world: Mr. President, please defend human rights in the face of communist oppression.
Below, read about these five dissidents who exemplify this struggle for freedom and liberty.
Liu Xiaobo is a renowned Chinese professor, activist, social critic, and dissident. In 2008, he was detained and incarcerated because of his support for Charter 08, a manifesto calling for democracy and the abolition of single-party rule in China. He was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in absentia for his work. Read more about his continuing imprisonment and an attempt to honor him here in Washington, DC.
Otto Warmbier is an American citizen now languishing in a North Korean labor camp. An American college student, he went to North Korea as a tourist. While there, he was arrested for allegedly taking down a propaganda poster in his hotel. After a coerced confession he was sentenced to fifteen years of hard labor. Read more about North Korea’s abysmal treatment of foreign nationals and its own citizens.
Danilo Maldonado Machado, also known as El Sexto, is famous throughout the world for his provocative art and acerbic commentary on Cuba’s communist dictatorship. He was seized by Cuban security forces in the wake of Fidel Castro’s death in November for spraypainting “He Is Gone” on a wall. Read more about El Sexto’s spraypaint-fueled fight for Cuba’s freedom.
Father Nguyễn Văn Lý is a Vietnamese Roman Catholic priest and advocate for religious freedom in communist Vietnam. Because of his opposition to Vietnam’s antireligious policies, he has spent more than twenty years of his life in prison and fifteen in “house arrest.” During his most recent trial, his loud and repeated denunciation of communism led guards to forcibly cover his mouth. Read about another episode in his ongoing struggle with Vietnam’s oppressive regime.
Sombath Somphone is a community development worker and civil society leader in Laos. He worked tirelessly to improve the lives of the Laotian people by pioneering new forms of rural development, sustainable farming, and agricultural entrepreneurship. After receiving several prestigious international awards and a great deal of international recognition, Sombath was abducted by security forces in 2012. His whereabouts remain unknown. Read more about Sombath’s forced disappearance and the many other human rights violations of the Lao regime.
Please help us amplify the messages of these oppressed dissidents and join us in calling on the new administration to protect activists and the freedoms for which they fight.