December 18, 2015
For immediate release
Ottawa, December 18, 2015 – Today Senator Thanh Hai Ngo issued the following statement in response to Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly’s latest announcement:
“I am disappointed to hear that the construction of the Memorial to Victims of Communism will be significantly delayed, even though numerous Canadian communities have voiced their support for the commemoration Memorial.
“The proposed changes to the Memorial—which include moving it to a different location, capping government funding at $1.5 million and reinitiating the design process—further thwart the expectations of close to 8 million Canadians who trace their roots to countries that suffered under Communism.
“I hope the Liberal government will not further impede construction of the Memorial to Victims of Communism, to which numerous communities feel a close connection. They include the Armenian, Romanian, Finnish, Polish, Ukrainian Chinese, Korean, Tibetan and Vietnamese communities, among others, who first arrived to Canada as refugees seeking freedom and a better life.
“Unfortunately, this government announcement was made soon after Prime Minister Trudeau expressed ‘tremendous concern’ over a Toronto pastor jailed in North Korea. Last Wednesday, after a trial that lasted only 90 minutes, North Korea’s highest court sentenced South Korea-born Canadian pastor Hyeon Soo Lim to hard labor for life under charges of trying to overthrow the North Korean government and undermine its social system with “religious activities” for the past 18 years.
“The former proposed location of the Memorial near the Supreme Court of Canada would have served as a powerful reminder of the human rights violations that continue to exist and of the true purpose of an independent and impartial judiciary. It would also have reminded Canadians that the absence of independent judicial systems in Communist countries is the main reason why we continue to witness human rights abuses in North Korea, China, and Vietnam, for example.
“Erecting a monument to commemorate victims of communism would show that the government of Canada is concerned about the rights and wellbeing of victims of human rights violations perpetrated by communist regimes. As it prepares to build the Memorial by 2018, the Liberal government should take a clearer stance against systematic human rights violations in communist nations, and fully support the Canadian victims who proudly contribute to Canada’s diversity and prosperity.”