Posts Tagged ‘concentration camps’

They survived the Holocaust. Must they go back into hiding?

December 10, 2018

They survived the Europe of the Holocaust. But a recent rise in anti-Semitic acts in the United States has rekindled old fears: Should they again go into hiding, or should they instead reach out to share their experiences?

Nearly all of them were children or adolescents in the early 1940s. They remember having their youth stolen from them — by fear, by desperate flight, by separation from relatives, and in some cases by the Nazi death camps.

GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File / SPENCER PLATT
Amid a rise in reported anti-Semitic acts in the US, neo-Nazis in the state of Georgia burned a swastika on April 21, 2018

If there was one country where they felt they were safe, it was the United States, where many of them have now lived for decades.

They have, to be sure, heard the occasional anti-Semitic slight or perhaps seen a swastika daubed on a wall, but still they felt safe — an all-important word for them.

Now, however, these survivors — several of whom came together in the Oheb Shalom synagogue in an affluent New Jersey suburb to celebrate Hanukkah and to mark International Holocaust Survivors Night — are deeply worried: Anti-Semitic acts in the US soared last year by 37 percent, according to FBI statistics.

The October 27 slaughter at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, where a white nationalist has been charged with gunning down 11 mostly elderly Jews as they worshiped, greatly heightened those fears.

AFP/File / Brendan SMIALOWSKI
A woman stands at a memorial outside the Tree of Life synagogue after a shooting there left 11 people dead in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh on October 27

“A crazy man listened to Trump,” said David Lefkovic, 89, referring to the Pittsburgh shooter.

As an adolescent in southwestern France during World War II, he was saved only by his blond hair from being snatched up in a round-up of Jews.

Trump “calls anybody that he doesn’t like ‘weak’ — that’s exactly Nazi language,” said Adela Dubovy, who, as a 6-year-old, survived the notorious Theresienstadt concentration camp. “You’re weak, you’re to be destroyed.”

– ‘It can happen again’ –

“Before, they were hiding,” Lefkovic said of America’s anti-Semites.

“It’s now out in the open that it’s okay to pick on the Jews all over again,” said Hanna Keselman, who was born in Germany in 1930 and spent much of the war in France and Italy.

The anti-Semites “are very strong, even in colleges,” said Roman Kent, who survived life in camps including Auschwitz. “They should have people that are more intelligent.”

AFP/File / Don EMMERT
Roman Kent, who survived life in several Nazi concentration camps, regrets that more young Jews are not stepping forward to ensure the Holocaust is never forgotten

In recent weeks, anti-Semitic acts have taken place on the campuses of some of America’s most prestigious universities, including Columbia and Cornell in New York state and Duke in North Carolina.

Of the Pittsburgh massacre, said Kent, who took part in negotiations with Germany over compensation to be paid to Jews, “I’m afraid that it can happen again, and it will happen again.”

– ‘I don’t want to live that way’-

Adela Dubovy said she has four grandchildren at various universities.

She said she lives in a retirement home — a “bubble” that insulates her to some extent. But she admits to being “scared.”

“Now I don’t wear my Star of David. I tell my grandkids: Don’t wear your kippah (yarmulke) in the street — you don’t want to be attacked.”

“I understand” the urge to be discreet, said Keselman, “but I would not tell my grandchildren that.”

“I don’t want to live that way anymore… I did it. Enough of that.”

When she traveled back to Italy, where her father was arrested and then killed, “I purposely wore a Jewish Star of David. I felt, ‘This is me back, and I feel safe here.'”

Today, said the soft-spoken 88-year-old, “I want to live free and open with everyone.”

Keselman, a painter, is not fond of public speaking but she forces herself to meet with young people to keep alive the haunting memories that some people feel will be lost forever when the final survivors die.

Roman Kent says he regrets that too few members of younger Jewish generations have picked up the torch.

“If they would, then there would not be 60 or 70 percent that don’t know the word Holocaust,” he said.

A study published in April by the Claims Conference, the group behind the International Holocaust Survivors Night, found that 49 percent of America’s young “millennial” generation could not name a single concentration camp.

“I realize that I do make an impact on people who are not Jewish, because they come back and tell me they never realized a lot of things that were going on” during the war, said Keselman.

“The problem,” she added, “is that the people who want to hear the stories are not the people who would be behaving as anti-Semites.”

https://www.afp.com/en/news/3954/they-survived-holocaust-must-they-go-back-hiding-doc-1bg0k42

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Ex-Prisoner Says China’s ‘Vocational Training Centers’ a Complete Lie

December 7, 2018
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The ongoing repression in China is about “protecting the Chinese Communist Party.”
Uyghur Reveals Chinese Communist Party’s Crimes in Xinjiang
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December 6, 2018

China’s claims that Xinjiang’s mass internment camps—where at least one million predominantly ethnic Uyghurs are being held—are “vocational training centres” are completely “fake and made up,” a former Uyghur camp detainee has told The Epoch Times.

Countering claims made by the China’s ruling Communist Party, who in October described the facilities as “free vocational training centers” that make life more “colorful,” the former detainee, Gulbukhar Jalilova, said “they are lying through their teeth,” adding that she “never saw a single classroom.”

Xinjiang governor Shohrat Zakir told state-run Xinhua news agency that people detained in the camps “will advance from learning the country’s common language to learning legal knowledge and vocational skills.”

Xinjiang governor Shohrat Zakir

But 54-year-old Gulbukhar said instead of learning vocational skills, “I moved from camp to camp, room to room, and never saw anybody spending any time learning something.”

Gulbukhar, a Kazakhstan national and businesswoman, was held in an all-female camp in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi, for just over 15 months before she was released in September this year. She was detained after being falsely accused of transferring $17,000 into a company called Nur. She was released by officials after they said they had been told she was innocent.

She was tricked into traveling to Urumqi after receiving a phone call from her business associate’s daughter. She was told there were “big problems” and that she needed to come to the capital immediately from her home in Kazakhstan. She was arrested upon her arrival.

Uyghur woman Gulbukhar Jalilova who was released from Xinjiang reeducation camp
Businesswoman Gulbukhar Jalilova, 54, a former Uyghur detainee in Xinjiang, China. (Gulbukhar Jalilova)

The CCP’s narrative of providing detainees with “vocational skills” to help with employment does not add up, the 54-year-old said, because the types of women held in camp with her were “very rich, educated people,” such as “businesswomen, doctors, nurses and teachers.”

“They weren’t homeless people or those with no money who needed training—that’s a lie from the CCP,” she told The Epoch Times.

“They could afford to go overseas and then when they came back, they were detained.”

But amongst the claims Zakir made, as the CCP moved to legalize the facilities, is that detainees are offered “practical opportunities,” such as learning about “businesses in garment making, mobile phone assembly, and ethnic cuisine catering.”

The CCP has long justified its measures against Uyghurs, the majority of whom are Sunni Muslim, saying the facilities aim to “educate and transform” those that it deems at risk of the “three evil forces” of “extremism, separatism, and terrorism.”

Uyghurs, alongside other ethnic minorities like the Tibetans, as well as faithful believers who remain outside state control, including house Christians and Falun Gong, have long been targeted by the CCP for transformation through “re-education.”

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV aired a 15-minute segment in October, offering a glimpse into life inside one of the centers—the Hotan City Vocational Skills Education and Training Center.

The “trainees” can be seen reading from large textbooks in the clip and are shown learning various skills such as baking, woodworking, sewing, and cosmetology.

“Whatever the CCP shows on TV and videos—it’s all fake and made up. There are no classrooms. We just sit in our rooms and stare at the wall. The door only opens to punish you, that’s it,” Gulbukhar added.

While China’s state TV footage showed rooms with air conditioning, decorated with bunting and balloons, Gulbukhar said it is a depiction far from reality. Detainees are confined to their rooms, poorly treated, and kept in shackles in overcrowded conditions, she said.

Those in her camp were forced to ingest unknown medicine daily and were injected with a substance every month which “numbs your emotions.” They were also subject to various forms of torture including food and sleep deprivation, physical punishments, while some were even killed, she said.

Chairing a Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) hearing on Nov. 29, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio said given the daily realities in communist China, where “Uyghur Muslims are rounded up and interned in camps, Tibetan monks and nuns are forced to undergo political re-education sessions, Falun Gong practitioners are reportedly sent to legal education centers for indoctrination, and Christian believers are harassed and imprisoned,” many observers are describing the current wave of repression in China as “the most severe since the cultural revolution.”

Rubio added he believes the CCP’s motivation behind the escalating crackdown “is an obsessive desire … to create a sort of unified, national identity, which must be stripped of anything that competes with it—ethnicity, religion, ethnic cultural tradition.”

China analyst Dr. Samantha Hoffman from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute added at the hearing that the ongoing repression in China is about “protecting the Chinese Communist Party.”

The CCP’s “concept of what we would call national security I think is better translated as party state security,” she said. “[T]here are dimensions … dealing with the internal struggle for power … and then dealing with everything outside the party; controlling the narrative, controlling the ideological space.

“That means that the state security methods extend far beyond China’s borders and that’s why you see the harassment of overseas Chinese.”

https://www.theepochtimes.com/ex-prisoner-says-chinas-vocational-training-centers-a-complete-lie_2731988.html

Hundreds of scholars condemn China for Xinjiang camps — “Psychological torture of innocent civilians.”

November 27, 2018

Countries must hit China with sanctions over the mass detention of ethnic Uighurs in its western Xinjiang region, hundreds of scholars said on Monday, warning that a failure to act would signal acceptance of “psychological torture of innocent civilians.”

Beijing has in recent months faced an outcry from activists, academics and foreign governments over mass detentions and strict surveillance of the Muslim Uighur minority and other ethnic groups that live in Xinjiang.

In August, a United Nations human rights panel said it had received many credible reports that a million or more Uighurs and other minorities are being held in what resembles a “massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy” in the region.


Uighur security personnel patrol near the Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar in western China’s Xinjiang region. (Ng Han Guan/AP)

Representatives from a group of 278 scholars in various disciplines from dozens of countries called on China at a news briefing in Washington to end its detention policies, and for sanctions directed at key Chinese leaders and security companies linked to the abuses.

“This situation must be addressed to prevent setting negative future precedents regarding the acceptability of any state’s complete repression of a segment of its population, especially on the basis of ethnicity or religion,” the group said in a statement.

Countries should expedite asylum requests from Xinjiang’s Muslim minorities, as well as “spearhead a movement for UN action aimed at investigating this mass internment system and closing the camps,” it said.

China rejects criticism of its actions in Xinjiang, saying that it protects the religion and culture of minorities, and that its security measures are needed to combat the influence of “extremist” groups that incite violence there.

Image result for wang yi, photos
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi

The country’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said the world should ignore “gossip” about Xinjiang and trust the government.

But after initial denials about the detention camps, Chinese officials have said some people guilty of minor offences were being sent to “vocational” training centers, where they are taught work skills and legal knowledge aimed at curbing militancy.

Michael Clarke, a Xinjiang expert at Australian National University who signed the statement, told reporters that China sought international respect for its weight in global affairs.

“The international community needs to demonstrate to Beijing that it will not actually get that while it’s doing this to a significant portion of its own citizenry,” Clarke said.

Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

Reuters

See also:

China is creating concentration camps in Xinjiang. Here’s how we hold it accountable.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/china-is-creating-concentration-camps-in-xinjiang-heres-how-we-hold-it-accountable/2018/11/23/93dd8c34-e9d6-11e8-bbdb-72fdbf9d4fed_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.0d09103d7a08

In Virginia, April 30 is South Vietnamese Recognition Day

April 30, 2013

SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 455 Designating April 30, in 2013 and in each succeeding year, as South Vietnamese Recognition Day in Virginia.

Agreed to by the Senate, February 21, 2013Agreed to by the House of Delegates, February 22, 2013 WHEREAS, South Vietnamese Americans, a proud, industrious people, make up the fourth-largest group of Asian Americans in the United States; and

WHEREAS, a South Vietnamese mass immigration to the United States began when communist tyranny swept the former Republic of Vietnam after the fall of Saigon in 1975; and

Marking the fall of Saigon 38 years ago

Former members of the South Vietnamese military march during a ceremony at Westminster’s Boat People Monument in California to mark the April 30, 1975, fall of Saigon to the Communist North Vietnamese.   Similar events are held around the world n April 30.  (Rick Loomis, Los Angeles Times / April 28, 2013)

WHEREAS, to the very end, soldiers of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) fought valiantly, defending their freedom with skill, daring, and gallantry; the ARVN 3rd Cavalry Regiment, for example, demonstrated such skill and heroism in battle that it was awarded the coveted United States Presidential Unit Citation; and

Boat People

WHEREAS, nearly 60,000 American fighters died in the Vietnam War and some 224,000 South Vietnamese troops also fell defending their nation; and

WHEREAS, although the American sacrifice in Vietnam was enormous, some of the most bitter combat—including the savage warfare after the United States’ withdrawal—was shouldered principally by our South Vietnamese allies; and

WHEREAS, the 1968 communist Tet Offensive was designed to crack South Vietnam’s will to resist, instead, South Vietnamese forces fought ferociously, and not a single unit collapsed or ran; indeed, even the police fought, turning pistols against heavily armed enemy regulars; and

WHEREAS, together with American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines, the ARVN decimated the indigenous Viet Cong guerrillas, eliminating them as an effective fighting force for the remainder of the war; and

WHEREAS, most American units had left Vietnam by 1972, yet South Vietnamese units continued to perform remarkably well; with limited American help, they defeated North Vietnam’s all-out Easter Offensive, a massive conventional invasion led by Soviet T-54 tanks; and

WHEREAS, the Easter Offensive victory helped force North Vietnam to accept a negotiated end to the war; and

WHEREAS, sadly, in 1974 the United States withdrew most military support, including air power, severely restricting the flow of fuel and munitions to the ARVN; strangled by a lack of supplies, tanks and artillery pieces were allotted meager quantities of ammunition—sometimes just a few shells per day—and radios often had no batteries; and

WHEREAS, the strangulation of South Vietnamese supply lines destroyed morale and decimated combat power, making it impossible for even the bravest South Vietnamese troops to effectively defend against the final invasion by North Vietnamese soldiers; North Vietnam remained well-supplied by its communist allies in China and the Soviet Union; and

WHEREAS, everyone with ties to the Americans or the government of the Republic of Vietnam feared the threatened communist reprisals; as communist forces overran the South during the spring of 1975, 125,000 key South Vietnamese personnel were airlifted from South Vietnam to refugee centers in the United States; and

WHEREAS, as American troops and embassy staff were evacuated by waiting aircraft, terrified South Vietnamese mothers thrust their babies into the hands of complete strangers, hoping their offspring might somehow survive the approaching bloodbath; and

WHEREAS, the promised reign of terror quickly emerged and the South Vietnamese desperately fled the murderous tyranny of the communists; roughly two million South Vietnamese fled to escape North Vietnam’s promised “people’s paradise”; and

WHEREAS, launching small, crowded sampans, many South Vietnamese sailed into the vast, treacherous waters of the South China Sea, where hundreds of thousands drowned in the escape attempt; the South Vietnamese continued to flee their country in huge numbers from 1975 until the mid-1980s; and

WHEREAS, beginning in 1975 and for decades afterwards, well over one million South Vietnamese—especially former military officers and government employees—were imprisoned in communist concentration camps; these were euphemistically called “reeducation camps,” where many thousands of South Vietnamese were “educated” to their deaths; and

WHEREAS, the communist concentration camps were characterized by brutal forced labor, political indoctrination, and deadly assignments like human mine clearing; there were no formal charges or trials; and

WHEREAS, the conditions in the camps were so savage that many surviving inmates estimate that almost a third of the prisoners of war died while in captivity; and

WHEREAS, South Vietnamese immigration to the United States peaked in 1992 when, after decades of torture, many concentration camp survivors were finally released and sponsored by their families to come to this country; and

WHEREAS, after persevering through unimaginable brutality and suffering, the South Vietnamese who escaped their homeland demonstrated admirable talent and intellect; they became an entrepreneurial, upwardly mobile group, whose poverty rate rapidly declined after their arrival in the United States; and

WHEREAS, today, 82 percent of the South Vietnamese in the United States are native-born or naturalized citizens, an exceptionally high portion of American citizenship for any immigrant group; and

WHEREAS, for several decades, South Vietnamese American patriots have contributed to the United States with intellect, skill, loyalty, and determination; many have served proudly in the Armed Forces of the United States; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED by the Senate, the House of Delegates concurring, That the General Assembly designate April 30, in 2013 and in each succeeding year, as South Vietnamese Recognition Day in Virginia; and, be it

RESOLVED FURTHER, That the Clerk of the Senate transmit a copy of this resolution to the Virginia Asian Chamber of Commerce and the National Congress of Vietnamese Americans so that the members of these organizations may be apprised of the sense of the General Assembly of Virginia in this matter; and, be it

RESOLVED FINALLY, That the Clerk of the Senate post the designation of this day on the General Assembly’s website.

http://www.richmondsunlight.com/bill/2013/sj455/fulltext/

In Falls Church, Virginia, at the Eden Center, Vietnam April 30 events are held.