Bulgarian Parlimentarian: "It is a question not only of politics, but of humanity"

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 is a report on the speech by Mrs Mikhailova, a parliamentarian representing Bulgaria:

Two months ago, I was a keynote speaker at a conference on human rights in North Korea, which was held in Seoul. What I heard at that conference and what I have learned from a documentary is so terrifying that it is hard for a normal human being to believe.

This debate reminds me how evil communist regimes can be and how the absence of international condemnation of the massive human rights violations and deaths of many millions of individuals regrettably gave a chance to many dictators in the 21st century to feel untouchable by the law. It is difficult to discuss communism without emotion. It is a question not only of politics, but of humanity.

Is it too early for such a debate? I think that the assessment of the crimes of communism came too late. Some of the victims are not alive, and they left this world with the sadness of not having received justice. In the name of those who survived, I congratulate the rapporteur on his dignity and courage in raising this issue, which he has discussed in a convincing way. There is no doubt that communist regimes killed millions of people in central and eastern Europe, including in my own country, Bulgaria. Those events changed the lives of a whole generation. In Russia alone, there were 20 million victims, which is more than the number of victims during the Second World War. I cannot explain the position of the Russian members today.

Some people would oppose me and say that this is already history which will never be repeated. I do not agree, for three reasons. First, there are still places in the world such as Belarus, Cuba and North Korea where the same evil practices are used against people simply because they want freedom, democracy and human rights.

Secondly, during this debate, and especially during the vote, Europe’s real political assessment of the crimes of communism will become clear. The wish of some politicians to maintain good relations with countries whose rules are still based on communist ideology should not prevent them from being just and following the spirit of the Council of Europe. The debate will also prove whether the newly named socialist parties of central and eastern Europe have cut the ties with their past. The French resistance and the Spanish resistance cannot be an excuse for the crimes committed by communist totalitarian regimes.

Thirdly, today’s debate is sending an important message to the new generations and trying to keep them away from a sort of nostalgia for communism. It will prove whether we, the deputies of the oldest democratic institution in Europe and the symbol of human rights, are truly driven by principles – whether we are ready to name the truth and to defend the truth. The Young people of Europe and all over the world need examples of principles, courage and commitment to defend human dignity.

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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