Victims of Communism Memorial' Planned

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Officials gave initial approval Thursday to a memorial for victims of communist regimes that would be located within sight of one of the icons of democracy the Capitol.

The 90-square-foot monument would be built on National Park Service land one block west of the Capitol. A central feature will be a bronze Goddess of Democracy statue similar to the papier-mache and Styrofoam statue erected by pro-democracy students in Beijing's Tiananmen Square during 1989 demonstrations.

The National Capital Planning Commission voted unanimously to give preliminary approval to the "Victims of Communism Memorial."

The memorial will honor an estimated 100 million people killed or tortured under communist rule.

"They include those who died in Stalinist purges, Mao Zedong's cultural revolution, or under the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia," said Lee Edwards, a fellow with the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Washington.

Edwards has served as chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, which began lobbying for the project 12 years ago.

About 75 percent of the $600,000 needed to build and landscape the memorial already has been collected from donors with ties to Cuba, Hungary, Vietnam, Poland, and more than 35 other nations.

If final approval is granted in December, construction could begin next spring.

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