BACKGROUND: 100 million deaths under communism
Jun 12, 2007, 18:47 GMT
Washington - The planners of the victims of communism memorial dedicated Tuesday in Washington based the figure of an estimated 100 million political deaths under communism on the book by French scholars, 'The Black book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression,' published by Harvard University.
The 1997 book, hailed by US reviewers as a groundbreaking documentary work, put the death tolls at 65 million in China; 20 million in the Soviet Union; 2 million in North Korea; 2 million in Cambodia; 1.7 million in Africa; 1.5 million in Afghanistan; 1 million in Vietnam; 1 million in the communist states of Eastern Europe; and 150,000 in Latin America.
In his speech at the dedication, US President George W Bush noted individual losses, including deaths in the Ukraine from starvation imposed by Soviet tyrant Joseph Stalin; the deaths of Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians 'loaded onto cattle cars and deported to Arctic death camps of Soviet Communism;' the Chinese killed in the cultural revolution and Great Leap Forward; Cambodians slain under Pol Pot; East Germans 'shot attempting to scale the Berlin Wall;' Poles 'massacred in the Katyn Forest;' Ethiopians slaughtered in the Red Terror; Miskito Indians murdered by Nicaragua's Sandinista dictatorship; and Cuban refugees 'who drowned escaping tyranny.'
'We'll never know the names of all who perished, but at this sacred place, communism's unknown victims will be consecrated to history and remembered forever,' Bush said of the memorial.
The memorial statue, called the 'goddess of democracy,' shows a woman holding a torch high with her right hand. It is a replica of one carved by Chinese student sculptors in the spring of 1989, and erected during protests at Tiananmen Square that provoked severe reprisals from the Chinese communist government.
Congress had to approve the building of the memorial, but it was built with private funds raised by a non-profit foundation.© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur