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Human Rights Activists Call Communism World Tragedy


President Bush on Tuesday dedicated a new memorial in Washington D.C. to the victims of communism. Later, a group of former political prisoners spoke about the costs of communism. VOA's Deborah Block has the story.

Human rights activist Harry Wu spent 19 years in Chinese labor camps for criticizing China's Communist Party. He was released in 1979 and came to the United States. When he returned to China in 1995, he was arrested and convicted of stealing state secrets. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison but was immediately expelled. At the Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, Wu criticized the belief that money and trade with China's government is the best way to promote democracy there.

"I think the money and technology going to China serve as a blood transfusion to a dying communist evil," says Wu.

Tu Tranh Tran was a political prisoner in Vietnamese labor camps for 18 years under the communist government. He says 65,000 people died in the camps from executions, hard labor, beatings, disease and starvation.

"There were no obvious bloodbaths,” says Tran. “But behind the heavily guarded fences the communists conducted the vilest and most monumental and physical torture ever designed."

Cuban Pedro Fuentes said at first he believed in Cuban President Fidel Castro and became a member of the revolutionary government. But after he disagreed with Mr. Castro's Soviet-backed politics he spent 18 years in a Cuban prison.

"The Cuban ex-political prisoners have been fighting for more than 40 years and we are ready to continue fighting until we see our country free," says Fuentes.

Fuentes said more than 100 million people around the world have lost their lives due to communism. He said the new memorial should teach people that they should fight against communism.

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