100 million and 1.5 billion. These figures represent the number of people killed by Communism and those currently living under its oppression. Communism has and continues to be a profound threat to human rights around the world.
The most severe Communist oppression today is that imposed by the Chinese Communist Party. While visiting the Victims of Communism Museum last Wednesday, October 11 with the Museum’s founder, Dr. Lee Edwards, the M.A. students were privileged to see a special exhibit on Communism in China. The exhibit had a replica of the Goddess of Liberty which had been erected in Tiananmen Square during the demonstrations in May of 1989. It also featured a special portrait of Gao Zhisheng. Known as “Mr. Human Rights,” Gao Zhisheng is a human rights lawyer in China who has been imprisoned in an unknown place for over five years. Zhisheng’s human rights advocacy holds particular significance for the M.A. in Human Rights Program as he was the lawyer for Chen Guangcheng, a human rights hero and a faculty member of the M.A. Program. It was an incredibly sobering experience to see the exhibit, which highlighted human rights atrocities which are taking place today in China. The exhibit brings to light the imperative that those living in the free world advocate for an end to Communist oppression on behalf of those living under such regimes.
The first floor of the museum detailed the widespread killing committed by Communism, particularly after World War II before the fall of the Berlin Wall. “Dedicated to commemorating the more than 100 million victims of Communism around the world and to those pursuing freedom from totalitarian regimes,” the Museum is committed to keeping alive the memory of Communism’s victims in order to honor those who have suffered and to illustrate the vital need to combat Communist oppression today.
It was powerful to visit the Museum and discuss the cause of freedom and the harms of Communism with someone who has devoted so much to the cause of liberty and to remembering those who have suffered from living under Communism. Dr. Edwards has a long history of promoting the cause of freedom. In addition to founding the Museum, he co founded the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, which was authorized by a unanimous decision of Congress in 1993. He currently serves as an adjunct professor in Politics at The Catholic University of America and a distinguished fellow in conservative thought at the Heritage Foundation. He has also written over 25 books. A doer and a thinker, Dr. Edwards had much wisdom to offer students committed to making a positive difference in the public square. Dr. Edwards exhorted the M.A. students to remember those who have suffered from governmental suppression of human rights, maintain their commitment to the rule of law, and work to give a voice to the voiceless.