As demonstrators take to the streets of Washington to protest Cuba's regime, remember that the stories of Marxism’s survivors serve as poignant reminders of its historic and present-day repression.
“Mr. Tom,” whose identity has been concealed for his protection, is an exiled Hong Kong student activist. Inspired by the rallying cry of “Five Demands, not one less,” he joined hundreds of thousands of his fellow Hong Kongers in 2019-2020 to protest the controversial extradition bill proposed by the city's government.
Mr. Tom also joined a pro-independence group, believing that Hong Kong’s independence was the best way to ensure democracy in the semi-autonomous region. Cullen O’Hara is a university student and a descendant of Latvian immigrants. O’Hara and Mr. Tom can attest that communist regimes were (and still are) oppressive.
Contrary to the statements of historical revisionists, the horrors of Marxism were all too real. O’Hara’s grandmother, the daughter of a modest landowner and farmer, had to flee Latvia in the 1940s. “It became clear that the Soviets were going to sweep across the country, and my grandmother’s family realized that anyone in a leadership position was going to be killed or deported,” O’Hara told the Washington Examiner in an interview.
And don’t think repression is a relic of the past. The threat of political persecution persists in some parts of the world today. Mr. Tom explained that his activism has put him in danger of violating the Hong Kong national security law. “Openly advocating for Hong Kong independence could lead to lifetime imprisonment,” he said. Mr. Tom feared that the police knew of his involvement in the Hong Kong independence movement and decided to go into exile.
But fleeing communism is not easy. O’Hara told the Washington Examiner that his grandmother had to abandon everything in Latvia and flee with her family to Czechoslovakia. Once there, the family suffered through the ravages of the Second World War, with O’Hara’s great-grandfather being killed in an explosion while working to feed his family.
And today, the journey to freedom remains perilous. Though Mr. Tom fled Hong Kong by airplane, he was concerned that he would not be able to leave. He told the Washington Examiner, “Only after my flight took off, I felt a sigh of relief, but at the same time, I was in tears knowing that I will not be able to return home for years to come.”
Like the survivors of Cuba’s regime are doing today, Mr. Tom has continued to engage in activism. He has organized protests on his campus and asked U.S. lawmakers to support “lifeboat” policies for protesters still in Hong Kong. Though he is concerned for his family, whose home has been raided by officers, Mr. Tom remains hopeful about the situation in Hong Kong.
If we can learn anything from O’Hara and Mr. Tom’s stories, it is that, as President Ronald Reagan said, freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. As more young people are embracing socialism, the stories of communism’s victims are becoming ever more important. They serve as a sobering reminder of all that we have to lose.
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Original Author: Samuel Kim
Original Location: As Cubans march for freedom, remember the horrors of Marxism