Joan Delaney, Epoch Times
Ongoing efforts to build a monument to victims of communism came a major step closer to reality at a meeting in Toronto on Friday evening.
Hosted by Polish Congress Canada, the meeting was attended by such dignitaries as Secretary of State Hon. Jason Kenny, Pavel Vosalik, ambassador of the Czech Republic in Canada and Piotr Konowrocki, consul general of Poland in Toronto.
The meeting included an invitation to Kenney to designate land for the monument, which is to be erected in Ottawa, and a call for the creation of an international committee to facilitate the realization of the project.
In delivering the opening speech, Kenney singled out a gentleman in the audience from North Korea, "arguably the most brutal regime in the world today."
"Your presence here tonight reminds us, when we speak of the victims of communism… we don't speak simply about the victims of before, but more importantly we speak about the victims of the present who live today in prisons, in Gulags, in re-education camps; who suffer from persecution, imprisonment, torture, and still sometimes murder.
"We owe it to those people to make this project, this dream, a reality."
The worst crime of totalitarian systems in general and communism in particular, said Kenney, is "their total denial of freedom of conscience."
He recalled the words of Pope John Paul II—"one of the champions of human dignity and freedom"—who said the first human right should be freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. John Paul described the 20th century as the "century of tears" because it witnessed the rise of fascism and communism.
"It is no mistake, no coincidence that every communist regime in the world has always sought as one of its first priorities the suppression of freedom of conscience, of freedom of religion, and the suppression of religious institutions," said Kenney.
He noted that the Tibetan people live by a moral philosophy of non-violence, yet "they have seen their religion and their religious-grounded culture systematically attacked for over fifty years."
"Whether we look at the killing fields of Cambodia, or Castro's prisons today… In any one of these systems, we see over again the suppression of freedom of conscience and freedom of religion. There are people here from Falun Gong, Falun Dafa, another moral philosophy of non-violence that is aggressively persecuted."
Kenney said it is the people who have escaped communism, those "who know communism is not some textbook concept, that it is not some historical abstraction, that it is a real concrete system with real living victims today," who can bring the monument project to fruition.
"There are in this room representatives of over a dozen communities who arrived in Canada principally as refugees from Communism in their various lands of origin."
He said he hopes more people will step forward to "broaden this coalition" and form an organization to move the project along. For his part, Kenney promised his "absolutely undivided support" in making the project happen, "and I believe that my colleagues in the current government of Canada" will also lend support.
"This is not a political project, this is a human project. This is not a project for or against. This is not a project to promote any political agenda or ideology."
In an interview after the meeting, Kenney told The Epoch Times that he'd like to see the monument erected not only to commemorate the lives that were lost "because of this brutal and inhuman system," but also to teach current and future generations in Canada about the historical reality of communism.
"There has been a tendency to forget about the history of the 20th century or to focus almost exclusively on the crimes of fascism, which obviously need to be remembered, but we should remember all of the victims of totalitarianism in the 20th century, including the tens of millions whose lives were taken by communist regimes"
Move to erect Monument to Victims of Communism in Canada under way