Argentina, Chile, Haiti, Mexico, Mongolia, Nepal, Poland, Sri Lanka, Tuvalu and Venezuela became new members of the World League for Freedom and Democracy (WLFD) on Wednesday. Their admission received the unanimous approval of all the executive board members.
The WLFD as an international non-governmental organization used to be known as the Asia League for Freedom and Democracy.. The goal of this organization, which was founded in 1954, is to unite the people and the countries to realize the spirit of democracy and freedom.
At the 34th WFLD General Conference this year, Dr. Yeong-kuang Ger (葛永光), the secretary-general, announced the new directions of WLFD. This organization is embarking on overhaul moves.in the hope of infusing new blood and energy into it.
"First of all we will recruit new members to rejuvenate this organization," Yao Eng-chi (饒穎奇) the president of WLFD said. "Most of our members are too old or only very few people represent a chapter. Those who are still hanging on don't have enough influence in their countries. We need to recruit younger people into the WFLD to help promote democracy and freedom."
Yao went on: "Secondly, the WLFD should recruit new members to expand its influence. Since January last year, 10 countries applied for membership and were admitted. We should keep up this pace to include more members in our ranks. Meanwhile, we should pay more attention to some countries neglected by the world and suffering from the rule of undemocratic regimes such as Nepal."
Thirdly, in line with goal of expanding the membership, WLFD will visit the countries needing attention and international help. A few years ago, WLFD organized a group to visit Beijing, Shanghai and other big cities in China. Symposiums were held to initiate communication with the students and the people about the idea of democracy. The deputy secretary of WLFD just came back from Cuba.
"We don't know how much influence we have, but at least what we are doing is a start." said Dr. Yeong-kuang Ger.
Three points worth mentioning about this year's event are:. Firstly there is the entry of Nepal into WLFD. Secondly, the attendance of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania is worthy of note. Thirdly, Korea sent a big delegation to participate in the event.
The significance of Nepal joining WLFD is that the country is in the middle of fighting for democracy and freedom. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania share their experience of struggling for democracy and freedom. They didn't have the chance to build a democratic system until the withdrawal of the Soviet Union in 1990.
"We had been through the loss of freedom and democracy for more than 50 years," said Prof. Arvids Barsevskis, the representative of Latvia. "Regaining all these makes us cherish more what we have now."
Korea sent a delegation from Jeoji City, known to be where thousands of prisoners of war were jailed. The place gave birth to Freedom Day.
Other countries' representatives also gave speeches on their struggle for democracy and freedom. There were 70 guests from 22 countries at this event.
"In 1979, we became independent from the British government," said Bakeua Tekitaa, chairman of Kiribati's ruling party. "Being independent is like being a master of our own selves. In 2003, we became a friend of Taiwan and we hope to see our friendship and cooperation helping promote freedom and democracy."
Dr. Yeong-kuang Ger further said: "Here we can see many people from different countries speaking different languages but we all speak one language - democracy and freedom."
Origin of World Freedom Day
World Freedom Day, celebrated every January 23rd, marks the return to freedom in 1954 of 22,000 ex-communist Chinese and North Korean war prisoners of the Korean War (1950-1953), of whom more than 14,000 were Chinese.
Freedom-seekers risked their lives, withstanding all efforts to forcibly repatriate them behind the Iron Curtain to have them endure further communist despotism.
The first group of 14,000 former Chinese POWs arrived at Keelung, gateway of Taipei on January 23, 1954. "Freedom Day on January 23" was promptly observed by the founding units of today's Asian Pacific Anti-Communist League, which was established in June 1954. This memorable date was later expanded into "World Freedom Day" by a 1968 resolution of the World Anti-Communist League (WACL). The name of WACL has been changed into the World League For Freedom & Democracy(WLFD) since 1990.
Since then, the WLFD has annually issued its clarion call for all member units to observe this date with a week's program of activities, promoting "Freedom for All Mankind." Such efforts, over the years, have uplifted the hearts and spirits of countless individuals around the world, who have long fought hard for cherished freedom, democracy and human rights.