Tuesday, July 13, 2021

July 13th now has a double significance for victims of communism in China and Cuba

Free Cubans and Chinese share a common day to mourn victims of communism.

Over the past 27 years Cubans have mourned the 37 men, women, and children who were extrajudicially executed by agents of the Cuban government on July 13, 1994 "13 de Marzo" tugboat was attacked and sunk.

Tragically, Chinese are mourning Chinese Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and human rights defender Liu Xiaobo who died four years ago on July 13, 2017 at the First Hospital of China Medical University, Shenyang, China after being unjustly imprisoned from December 8, 2008 until his untimely death. It is likely that he died of a cancer made terminal by politically motivated neglect. Today marks the one year of his passing. After eight years in "unofficial detention" his widow Liu Xia was finally allowed to leave China on July 10, 2018.

Liu Xiaobo  was one of the authors of Charter 08 and signed it along with more than three hundred Chinese citizens. The Charter is a manifesto that was released on December 10, 2008, the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It calls for more freedom of expression, human rights, more democratic elections, the privatization of state enterprises and economic liberalization and would collect over 10,000 signatures.

Charter 08 is reminiscent of the Varela Project that was initially signed by 11,020 Cubans in May of 2002 calling on the Cuban government to respect international human rights norms and engage in the same kind of reforms. Both were inspired by Vaclav Havel and Charter 77. Lamentably one of the authors of the Varela Project, Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, founding leader of the Christian Liberation Movement and a youth leader of the same movement, Harold Cepero Escalante were both extrajudicially executed nine years ago on July 22, 2012 in a crash engineered by the Cuban dictatorship's agents.

The demand for justice remains unfulfilled in all these cases, but we must not despair.

We bear witness embracing truth and memory in defiance of the attempt to whitewash and forget. Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel explained the importance of doing this in his 1986 Nobel Lecture on why it is important to remember:  

"To forget the victims means to kill them a second time. So I couldn't prevent the first death. I surely must be capable of saving them from a second death." ... "There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." 

In 2017, I was present at a candlelight vigil in Washington, DC on July 17th organized by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation to pay my respects for Liu Xiaobo and demonstrate my solidarity with Chinese human rights defenders.

On Sunday, July 11, 2021 I was in front of the Cuban embassy in a vigil for the 37 victims of the July 13, 1994 "13 de Marzo" tugboat massacre and in solidarity with Cubans that had taken to the streets of over 50 towns and cities across Cuba. Together with scores of others we lit candles and said prayers for these victims of communism, their loved ones, and for justice.

We continue to remember.


July 13, 2017
Liu Xiaobo, Age: 61

July 22, 2012
Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, Age: 60
Harold Cepero Escalante, Age: 32

July 13, 1994
Hellen Martínez Enriquez. Age: 5 Months
Xicdy Rodríguez Fernández. Age: 2
Angel René Abreu Ruíz. Age: 3
José Carlos Niclas Anaya. Age: 3
Giselle Borges Alvarez. Age: 4
Caridad Leyva Tacoronte. Age: 5
Juan Mario Gutiérrez García. Age: 10
Yousell Eugenio Pérez Tacoronte. Age: 11
Yasser Perodín Almanza. Age: 11
Eliécer Suárez Plasencia. Age: 12
Mayulis Méndez Tacoronte. Age: 17
Miladys Sanabria Leal. Age: 19
Joel García Suárez. Age: 20
Odalys Muñoz García. Age: 21
Yalta Mila Anaya Carrasco. Age: 22
Luliana Enríquez Carrazana. Age: 22
Jorge Gregorio Balmaseda Castillo. Age: 24
Lissett María Alvarez Guerra. Age: 24
Ernesto Alfonso Loureiro. Age: 25
María Miralis Fernández Rodríguez. Age: 27
Leonardo Notario Góngora. Age: 28
Jorge Arquímedes Levrígido Flores. Age: 28
Pilar Almanza Romero. Age: 31
Rigoberto Feu González. Age: 31
Omar Rodríguez Suárez. Age: 33
Lázaro Enrique Borges Briel. Age: 34
Julia Caridad Ruíz Blanco. Age: 35
Martha Caridad Tacoronte Vega. Age: 35
Eduardo Suárez Esquivel. Age: 38
Martha Mirella Carrasco Sanabria. Age: 45
Augusto Guillermo Guerra Martínez. Age: 45
Rosa María Alcalde Puig. Age: 47
Estrella Suárez Esquivel. Age: 48
Reynaldo Joaquín Marrero Alamo. Age: 48
Amado González Raices. Age: 50
Fidencio Ramel Prieto Hernández. Age: 51
Manuel Cayol. Age: 56

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