Swedish Parliamentarian: "Stand up for people who suffered under these terrible dictatorships"

Speech from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Debates

On January 25th 2006, The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), which brings together parliamentarians from 46 European countries, passed a resolution entitled “Need for international condemnation of crimes of totalitarian communist regimes” at its plenary session. The resolution was passed by 99 votes to 42, which caught the attention of countries all over the world. Europe is the place where the spectre of Communism was born. This resolution passed by PACE heralded a new beginning of an international condemnation of totalitarian communist regimes.

Before voting on the resolution, the plenary session held over two hours of intensive debates. Parliamentarians from different countries made speeches at the meeting, outlining their personal experiences and opinions of communist regimes. Clearharmony will publish these speeches to bring attention to the crimes of the world’s largest communist regime — the Chinese Communist Party — which has brutally oppressed Falun Gong practitioners for almost seven years resulting in almost three thousand deaths and at least 44,000 documented abuses of torture.

The following opening speech was made by Mr Lindblad, the parliamentarian representing Sweden and one of the driving forces behind the resolution:

This report is overdue, and it is time for the Council of Europe to condemn the crimes of communist regimes. We have had many debates in the Political Affairs Committee, including long meetings in November and December. At the meeting in December, no member of the committee voted against the report – some members voted against the amendments, but at the end of the meeting, the report was adopted.

Most members have probably read “Three Men in a Boat”, which is a funny book. A Finnish author wrote a book about two boys in a boat, which is called “With a Sailboat to Siberia”. In May 1946, two Finnish boys were sailing from Finland to Stockholm, but there was something wrong with their compass.

They ended up close to the Soviet marine base, Porkala. They were arrested and sent to Leningrad for a mock trial and sentenced to three years in Siberia for mis-navigating. They had difficulty surviving and almost starved to death. After serving those three years, they thought that they would be freed and sent home, but not so – they had to stay for more than four more years to work on a kolchos. They were free, in a way, in the Soviet Union, but not free to go home. That is communism – the individual has no rights and no value. If we were in a communist society right now, this debate could not have taken place. There would be hardly any debate because everyone has to believe the same things.

I have a book by Natan Sharansky who was a Jewish dissident in the Soviet Union and has written many books. This one came out only two years ago – it is called “The Case for Democracy: the Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror”. It is a very important book and I recommend it. Mr Sharansky writes about the fear society. The communist states were fear societies and there are other fear societies, including fundamentalist regimes. In a fear society, people cannot express themselves and do not want to express themselves because they will be punished if they do. They therefore do something that Sharansky calls double-think. The majority of the population are double-thinkers. The rulers are a minority and the refuseniks, or dissidents, are another minority. That means that an opinion poll taken in a communist society will not, because of all the fear, provide a clean result. The same thing will happen if there is an election or a referendum.

Mr Sharansky worked very closely with Andrei Sakharov, the first and most famous dissident in the Soviet Union. Mr Sharansky was a Jewish dissident. That is important, because after the 1967 war between Israel and its Arab neighbours, the campaign against the Jewish population in the Soviet Union increased. As a result, the resistance was bigger than it had been before.

We can see the same effect today in communist China, where the regime is very tough against anyone with a different opinion. Falun Gong and certain religious denominations are very badly treated in China. We can see that the same thing will happen there, with many dissidents in opposition. That is good, because I could bet you €100 that the Chinese communist regime will be gone within five years. There are defecting diplomats; we saw the same thing in the Soviet Union. Many people are leaving the communist party; the same thing happened before the fall of the Soviet Union’s iron curtain.

The absence of any international condemnation may be partly explained by the fact that many politicians have been close friends with communists in various countries. I believe that there is now an urgent need for that condemnation to occur once and for all. There are three reasons. The first is for the sake of the general perception. It should be clear to everyone that crimes committed in the name of communism are condemned, with no exception. Secondly, for as long as victims of communist regimes, and their relatives, are alive, there is a chance to give them moral restitution. I am keen to tell you that in this report we discussed not economic restitution, but moral restitution for those who suffered, and still suffer, under communist regimes.

Last but not least, people must be reminded that communist regimes are still active in some countries of the world. We must have this debate to ensure that Europe does not repeat the mistakes that were once made.

Communist regimes can be defined by a number of features, including the rule of a single, mass party. One is allowed to do and think only what the party thinks, and it is committed to one ideology. The power is concentrated in a small group of leaders who have a pretty good life, but the rest of the people do not count – an individual is not worth anything. There is no right of association and freedom is non-existent. In order to enforce control over the public, these regimes usually have a very large police force

They have a monopoly on mass communication and nationalise the economy.

China is an exception to that. It has combined the worst parts of capitalist society with the worst parts of communist society. It has a communist society with no freedom of expression and no laws or regulations that protect the individual, combined with raw capitalism. That must be hell on earth. However, I am convinced that the Council of Europe, once and for all, will stand up for people who suffered under these terrible dictatorships.

More information on the resolution “Need for international condemnation of crimes of totalitarian communist regimes” can be found at http://www.clearharmony.net/articles/200601/31217.html

Note: Founded on May 5th 1949, the Council of Europe (COE) has 46 member countries and has its headquarters in Strasbourg, France. The COE aims to defend human rights, parliamentary democracy and the rule of law, to develop continent-wide agreements to standardise member countries’ social and legal practices, and to promote awareness of a European identity based on shared values and cutting across different cultures. The highest decision-making body is the Committee of Ministers, composed of the 46 Foreign ministers or their Strasbourg-based deputies (ambassadors/permanent representatives). The European Human Rights Court is a body under the Council of Europe.

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