Congresswomen Re-Launch Victims of Communism Caucus


A congressional caucus commemorating those killed and tyrannized under communism has been re-launched by a bipartisan effort.

In December 2023, Reps. Michelle Steel (R-Calif.) and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.) announced their intentions to reform the “Victims of Communism” caucus.

The goal of the caucus, the congresswomen said in a statement, is “to honor and bring awareness to the more than 100 million of people who have been harmed or killed by communist governments.”

Around two months later, on Feb. 14, the congresswomen formally re-launched the caucus during an event held in the U.S. Capitol.

They were joined both by representatives from Washington’s Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC) and by two firsthand witnesses of communist regimes.

For the lawmakers, VOC representatives, and witnesses alike, the matter is a personal one rather than a political abstraction.

Karina Lipsman, VOC’s director of government relations, opened the event, recounting her own experiences as a refugee from Soviet Ukraine.

Ms. Lipsman and other speakers emphasized the continued relevance of communism in international politics.

“While the Berlin Wall fell, communism did not,” Ms. Lipsman said. “Today, one-fifth of humanity still lives under communist tyranny.

“Over 100 years after the Bolshevik Revolution, there is no denying that communism is on the march: North Korea threatens nuclear war and still enslaves 25 million people in a sprawling 21st-century gulag. Cuba continues to jail, torture, and murder dissidents who dare to dream of democracy. Vietnam arrests citizens for simply posting messages on social media critical of the party, and China commits genocide and massive reeducation camps, separates families, sterilizes minority women, uses forced and child labor and harvests organs of political prisoners, all while it crushes liberty in Hong Kong, threatens to invade Taiwan, and spies on us at home.”

Communism, Ms. Lipsman ruled, “is the human rights issue of our time.”

Ms. Steel agreed. As with other speakers, the issue is a personal one for Ms. Steel: she escaped the brutal and totalitarian North Korean regime only due to her parents’ decision to flee for the free South during the Korean War.

Rep. Michelle Steel (R-Calif.) during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Oct. 20, 2021. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“Make no mistake,” Ms. Steel said. “Communism, in all its forms, is evil. We know this because wherever communism has taken root, poverty, despair, despotism, and death have followed. Communism and its adherents killed over 100 million people in the 20th century alone. This is the hallmark of an evil, evil, evil ideology, and it continues to kill today.”

She thanked the VOC for its efforts “to create a world free from the false hope of communism” and said she looks forward to adding her own voice to these efforts.

For Ms. Wasserman-Schultz, too, the issue has personal significance.

As a Jewish woman, Ms. Wasserman-Scultz noted that Soviet Jews were little better off than they had been under the anti-semitic tsars.

In similar circumstances to Ms. Steel’s, Ms. Wasserman-Schultz’s family eventually fled Eastern Europe and came to the United States to escape the “so-called Soviet ‘liberation,’” Ms. Wasserman-Schultz said.

NTD Photo
U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.) during a press conference with immigration advocates at the Americans for Immigrant Justice building in Miami, Fla., on Dec. 15, 2014. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

“I’m proud to represent a diverse, vibrant diaspora community to contribute to these efforts,” Ms. Wasserman-Schultz said.

“Many of my constituents have first-hand experience living under communist regimes like Cuba, where millions have endured totalitarian rule and gut-wrenching violations of human rights just 90 miles from my home state.

Ms. Wasserman-Schultz emphasized the importance that Congress “lives up to our moral obligation to counter communism, and deliver hope and democracy to those who need it most.”

Following Ms. Steel’s and Ms. Wasserman-Schultz’s December 2023 announcement that they were relaunching the House Victims of Communism Caucus, VOC Museum representatives were enthusiastic.

“All of us at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation are thrilled about the return of the VOC Caucus to the House and recognize that its work is more important than ever,” said VOC’s CEO, Ken Pope.

“Representatives Steel and Wasserman-Schultz are leading champions of freedom globally. They know the dangers posed by communism’s failed ideology. We look forward to working with them and all the new Members of the Caucus to ensure that we never forget.”

The event also featured testimony from Nur Iman, a Chinese Uyghur whose parents are currently imprisoned with little information about their health or well-being.

The Victims of Communism Caucus was initially founded in November 2017 in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, which marked the start of communism’s century-long battle with the West.

That fell apart prior to this re-launch but featured several prominent supporters, including former House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).

The caucus expressed support for several anti-communist initiatives, including initiatives like designating a Victims of Communism Memorial Day, supporting Hong Kong against encroachments by Beijing, supporting Uyghur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang province, and others.

From The Epoch Times

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