Czech Parliamentarian: "I was surprised by the striking realisation of communism’s black history"

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. Clear Harmony 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 BENEŠ, the parliamentarian representing Czech Republic:

We have been discussing the condemnation of the crimes of totalitarian communist regimes for a long time. You will have noticed that the title of the report has changed. The compromise is not so important for me because I do not know of any country where the communist party came to majority power and that country stayed democratic.

During discussions on the report, we received two Council of Europe resolutions – Number 739 from 1980 and Number 787 from 1982. They seem to be somewhat historical. I have read both very carefully. The discussions that took place at the different parliamentary assembly bodies were also very interesting to me. The history that we have lived is not as far off as it might seem. That may be why I, as a man who lived in a former socialist country, cannot be neutral on this issue.

I was surprised by the striking realisation of communism’s black history. None of the Council of Europe resolutions helped us in former socialist – or, if you like, communist – countries. The military steps taken by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher finally brought us the possibility of our current freedom. Of course, I must also note that Gorbachev’s extreme political sense of reality helped us very much as well.

I agree that the position in the former Soviet Union before and after the Second World War was totally different from that in the 1980s, when the resolutions were adopted. In the 1950s, people were killed in our country as well as other communist countries. In the 1980s, the terror was psychological. However, there can be no victims – hard or soft – without representatives of a regime and without murderers. There can be no representatives of a regime or murderers without servants of the system. That is why we are discussing the totalitarian crimes of communism after 15 years. Condemnation of Nazism was quick because it took only months for the world’s community to unify against it. There is a difference in the case of communism.

When the Second World War was over, it was clear who had won and who had lost. The end of the Cold War at the beginning of the 1990s has not brought such a clear division. Who was the loser and who was the winner? While winners of the Second World War became protectors in former Nazi and fascist countries and helped to “denazify” them, the end of the Cold War has brought no such protection to the post-communist countries. While Nazism was defeated in war, the communist regimes defended themselves.

I am not afraid of Nazism or communism. However, I am afraid of servants who helped those regimes, and not only in Berlin, Moscow or Prague.

More information on the resolution “Need for international condemnation of crimes of totalitarian communist regimes” can be found at

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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