In a few days the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is going to discuss a resolution “About the need for international condemnation of crimes of totalitarian communist regimes”. The project was prepared by the Political Committee of the PACE.
The totalitarian communist regimes which ruled in Central and Eastern Europe in the last century have been, without exeption, characterized by the massive violation of human rights, including numerous assassinations and executions, slave labour, death in concentration camps, deportations and other forms of mass terror.
The peoples of the former Soviet-Union suffered in particular from mass terror. They by far outnumbered other peoples in terms of the number of victims. Debates and condemnations have taken place so far at national level in some Council of Europe member states.
However, these measures cannot give dispensation to the international communityfrom taking a clear position on the crimes committed by the totalitarian communist regimes. It has moral obligation to do so without any further delay. a moral obligation to the victims of political reprisals and their family members, but also with regard to the education of young generations and future in general.
Therefore, the Parliamentary Assembly strongly condemns the massive human rights violations committed by the totalitarian communist regimes and expresses sympathy, understanding and recognition to the victims of these crimes. Furthermore, it calls on all communist or post-communist parties in its member states which have not so far done so to reasses the history of communism and their own past, clearly distance themselves from the crimes committed by totalitarian communist regimes and condemn them without any ambiguity.
The authors of the project urge the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to:
The project is accompanied by an “Explanatory memorandum” by the rapporteur of the Political Committee, Mr. Göran Lindblad (Sweden); it explains and illustrates the principles of the present resolution in details by means of a survey of historical evidence.
We support the initiative of the Political Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in its entirety. The guiding principles of the project fully correspond with the aims and setting of tasks of the “Memorial” Organization. From our point of view the public condemnation of th crimes committed by totalitarian communist regimes is of prime importance and an absolutely inevitable precondition for a democratic development in post-communist countries.
Some of the measures recommended by the resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe have already been realized in many of these countries: various things have been done in Russia, as well – mainly upon the initiative of public organizations and historians: in many regions memorials were erected in remembrance of the victims of political reprisals, from time to time there are exhibitions dedicated to the history of totalitarism, huge collections of documents on political repressions and the GULAG are published. Since 1991 we have anofficial memorial day, the 30th of October, in commemoration of the victims of political reprisals.
However, the main task on governmental level is the judgement of the crimes committed by the communist regime from the legal point of view. Until today there has not been any definite decision, they have not even undertaken any steps to accelerate its process.
Apart from this, we are still missing the necessary preconditions to explore the crimes in their completeness: the access to many important archival sources is still limited, and sometimes archives are not even accessible at all. Information about terror is passed on to the young generation mainly by means of school-books, which inform about events in a rather poor, superficial and often even contradictory, untrue and evasive way.
Hence, there is no public consent regarding the judging of the regime, which exterminated millions of people. The resolutions made by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in connection with the access to archives and education are a matter of topical interest in our country.
We believe that the word “Explanatory memorandum” about the “nostalgy of communism”, which is still alive in som countries, is entirely true for today’s Russia, and that the system of international cooperation will be conducive to overcome this situation, if this project will, in fact, be carried through.
The “Explanatory memorandum” contains a few inaccuracies concerning the description of historical facts and the statements given therein on the extent of terror; these data are controversial and lacking of documentary proof. This, of course, confirms the main thesis of the resolution – the necessity to set up a committee composed of independent experts with the task of collecting and assesing information and legislation related to violations of human rights under different totalitarian communist regimes.
The “Memorial” organization calls on the Council of Europe member states to vote for the resolution made by the Political Committee.
We particularly call on all deputees of the Assembly coming from post-communist countries to vote for the project.
The voting within the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is giving this state a unique historical chance to publicly and finally break with its totalitarian past – or rest in this past for a very long time yet.
We are convinced that the European public is going to pursue with utmost attention, how the delegates from post-communist countries (not only representatives of the communists) will vote on this matter – and it will draw a conclusion from its results accordingly.
In case this present resolution is adopted and the corresponding international structures are set up, then “Memorial” is prepared to cooperate.
The executive board of the International “Memorial” Organization
21st of January, 2006