Cruz joins rally for religious freedom

Cruz joins rally for religious freedom
© Greg Nash

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzMJ Hegar announces Texas Senate bid Liberal survey: Sanders cruising, Buttigieg rising Overnight Defense: Trump ends sanctions waivers for buying Iranian oil | At least four Americans killed in Sri Lanka attacks | Sanders pushes for Yemen veto override vote MORE (R-Texas) spoke at the Rally for Religious Freedom in Asia on Monday.

The event on the west lawn of the Capitol was part of a weeklong State Department-sponsored program to promote the issue of religious freedom abroad. Monday's event was organized by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.

“It is a pleasure to be here and stand in solidarity for the men and women across this globe who have been persecuted by communists,” said Cruz, talking about communist countries where people are denied religious liberty.

“As Americans, we stand with the oppressed people. We stand for the inherent dignity of each and every human being, the desire of each and every person to live free."

The senator spoke about his family's roots in Cuba.

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“The thing that the apologists for communism never seem to notice is that the rafts in Key West are all going in one direction,” he said. “We must stand united, in shining light, in highlighting heroism, in highlighting courage, in speaking out for those like my family, like so many millions across the globe who've seen the jackboot of communism firsthand."

Cruz also spoke about a Houston man, Will Nguyen. Nguyen had been arrested at a protest in Ho Chi Minh City on June 10 and held for 40 days. Nguyen faced 7 years in prison but was freed after the State Department and lawmakers advocated for his release.

“Many of us spoke out in support of his freedom. And he is now free,” said Cruz.

Rep. Alan LowenthalAlan Stuart LowenthalPelosi, Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez place transgender pride flags outside Capitol Hill offices Overnight Energy: Court rules for Trump in environmental case over border wall | House bill would stop Alaska refuge drilling | Ads target Dems over Green New Deal Lawmakers introduce bill to ban drilling in Alaska wildlife refuge MORE (D- Calif.), co-chair of the Congressional Vietnam Caucus, also addressed the rally.

Lowenthal said his defining issue during his time in Congress has been "human rights."

“When all people who suffer from religious oppression because of oppressive governments such as the communist governments, all of those people are released and are free to practice and to be free to express their views then I can move on,” he said.

Attendees of the rally were given shirts reading: “To the freedom and independence of all captive nations and peoples,” a quote from the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington, D.C.

“This month, as the United States affirms the importance of freedom from communist oppression for the purpose of international peace and stability, the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation stands in solidarity with those captive nations still seeking liberty, and especially religious liberty,” Marion Smith, executive director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, told The Hill.

Other speakers at the event included people exiled from Tibet and a Uyghur rights activist whose family is held by the Chinese government.