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 is a speech by Mr Kastēns, a parliamentarian representing Latvia:
I want to express my appreciation to the Assembly for its decision to call for an international debate on and condemnation of totalitarian communist regimes. We support the beginning of an international debate on the crimes that the communist regimes in central and eastern Europe committed in the past century. The crimes committed by totalitarian communist regimes must be investigated and those who perpetrated them must be brought to trial, as happened with the horrible crimes committed by the Nazis.
People of the Baltic states were among those millions of innocent people in central and eastern Europe who were killed, deported or starved to death in concentration camps by the Soviet regime. Hundreds of thousands of Poles, Ukrainians, Latvians, Estonians, Moldovans and Russians were assassinated or deported between 1939 and 1941 and in 1944 and 1945. Deportations continued after the war when Western Europe recovered from the wounds of the Second World War and started to receive help from the United States.
On 25 March 1949, overnight, 45 000 Latvians were deported to Siberia with their families. Not many of them returned. There is a moral obligation on behalf of the victims of communist regimes who were killed, those who are still alive and their families to give them moral compensation for their suffering. The Latvian Parliament has already adopted a declaration of condemnation of the communist occupation regime that was imposed after the Soviet invasion in 1940. My country has already established a committee composed of parliamentarians and independent experts to collect and assess information on violations of human rights under the totalitarian communist regime. They are prepared to co-operate closely with the Council of Europe’s committee of experts.
The people in Latvia are closely following the fate of this draft resolution. Let me give just one example. Yesterday, our delegation received a letter from Ms Nadezhda Chugunova, who lives in Riga. The letter is in Russian and I shall therefore quote part of it in Russian.
The ideology of communism in his country had destroyed the moral value of human nature. It had created a situation where societies were interested only in themselves. Millions of “free thinkers” had been destroyed. Condemning what had happened would be historical justice.
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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