Thursday, February 4, 2016

Opinion: Don't let petty politics scrap memorial to victims of Communism

Opinion: Don't let petty politics scrap memorial to victims of Communism


 
Victims of Communism re-victimized by debate
A controversial monument to victims of communism on Ottawa's main ceremonial street will now be significantly smaller, according to new plans for the site. Defence Minister Jason Kenney examines an artist's rendition of the National Memorial to Victims of Communism which will be situated near the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa on December 11, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
 By Marcus Kolga, guest commentator
Robert Conquest, the legendary historian who was the first academic to expose the horrific terror of the Soviet regime died last week. He was frequently maligned by left-leaning academics and the Soviet government for his work exposing Soviet repression. When he published a revised version of his landmark work “The Great Terror” in the 1990s, his friend and colleague, Kingsley Amis, suggested revising the title of the book to “I Told You So, You F*#king Fools.”
Sadly, the critics of Canada’s Memorial to The Victims of Communism still question whether any victims of communism exist at all. A small group has even launched a frivolous legal challenge to stop the project to memorialize the more than 100 million victims worldwide.
Last week, National Capital Commission chairman Mark Kristmanson issued a letter stating the approval of the memorial designs would not happen before the next scheduled NCC board meeting in November 2015, after the federal election. Critics suggest the delay caused by the legal action could mean that a future Liberal or NDP government might actually shelve the memorial project.
It is however, unlikely in the extreme, that any Canadian political party could morally justify denying this history and alienating eight million first-, second- and third-generation Canadians whose families came to this country fleeing communist terror. The hyper-partisan objections to the monument are also localized exclusively to Ottawa.
NDP candidate, Paul Dewar, has irresponsibly characterized the Memorial -- and by extension the victims it honours -- as a “poisoned chalice”. Yet his leader, Tom Mulcair, has given his party’s support for it.
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau has also issued a public statement in support of the project and Ottawa area MP, Mauril Belanger said Monday that he, too, supports the project. Yet some local Ottawa Liberal candidates have crassly reduced this solemn issue into a petty, riding level punchup.
The court case that critics have launched to halt the memorial project is likely being applauded inside the embassies of the Chinese and Russian regimes.
Both have spent billions of dollars to sanitize their bloody and repressive histories both at home and abroad by attacking and purging historical facts and silencing advocates.
Twenty six years ago, the Chinese communist regime gunned down hundreds of student protestors during a demonstration in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Today any public mention of the massacre leads to arrest and incarceration by Chinese authorities. The regime has also established the well funded, Confucius Institute, which promotes a distorted version of China’s history in North American schools cleansed of any repression, terror and genocide.
In Russia, school text books have been wiped clean of the mass atrocities and genocide committed by the Soviet communists. Books by historians who have exposed the truth of these regimes have been banned altogether from Russia. Robert Conquest’s “The Great Terror,” has long been removed from Russian shelves. Antony Beevor, who outlined the state condoned mass rape of women by the Soviet Red Army on the Eastern Front during the Second World War has also been censored. Instead, buses in Moscow are adorned with the image of Stalin.
The attempts by critics to crudely quash the Canadian memorial and deny the experiences of millions of Canadians is eerily similar to tactics used by totalitarian regimes.
The petty political grudges of a handful of local critics can’t be allowed to hijack a national memorial that will provide solace to millions of Canadians who suffered and gives thanks to refugees who helped build the country we know today.
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Marcus Kolga is an award winning documentary filmmaker, digital communications strategist, human rights and pro-democracy activist.