International conference “Crimes of the Communist Regimes”
Prague, February 24, 2010 - Vice-President of the Senate, Parliament of the Czech Republic Jiří Liška, Director of the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes Pavel Žáček, Chairman of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) Mirek Topolánek and Chinese dissident Harry Wu, who spent 19 years in forced labor camps in China, inaugurated the three-day international conference “Crimes of the Communist Regimes” on the Senate premises this morning.
Declaration on Crimes of Communism
We, the participants of the international conference “Crimes of the Communist Regimes“ held in Prague on 24-26 February 2010, declare the following:
- Communist regimes have committed, and are in some cases still committing, crimes against humanity in all countries of Central and Eastern Europe and in other countries where communism is still alive.
- Crimes against humanity are not subject to statutory limitations according to international law; however, the justice done to perpetrators of Communist crimes over the past 20 years has been extremely unsatisfactory.
- We must not deny the tens of millions of victims of Communism their right to justice.
- Since crimes against humanity committed by the communist regimes do not fall under the jurisdiction of existing international courts, we call for the creation of a new international court with a seat within the EU for the crimes of communism. Communist crimes against humanity must be condemned by this court in a similar way as the Nazi crimes were condemned and sentenced by the Nuremberg tribunal, and as the crimes committed in former Yugoslavia were condemned and sentenced.
- Not punishing the communist criminals means disregard of and thus weakening of international law.
- As an act of reparation and restitution, European countries must introduce legislation that equalizes the pensions and social security benefits of perpetrators of communist crimes so that they are equal to or smaller than those of their victims.
- As democracy must learn to be capable of defending itself, Communism needs to be condemned in a similar way as Nazism was. We are not equating the respective crimes of Nazism and Communism, including the Gulag, the Laogai and the Nazi concentration camps. They should each be studied and judged on their own terrible merits. Communist ideology and communist rule contradict the European Convention of Human Rights and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. Just as we are not willing to relativise crimes of Nazism, we must not accept a relativisation of crimes of Communism.
- We call upon EU member states to increase the awareness raising and education about crimes of communism; we remind them of the need to implement, without further delay, the Resolution of the European Parliament (2 April 2009) to mark 23 August as the European-wide Day of Remembrance of the victims of all totalitarian and authoritarian regimes.
- We call upon the European Commission and European Council of Justice and Home Affairs to adopt a Framework Decision introducing a pan-European ban on excusing, denying or trivializing the crimes of communism.
- The creation of the Platform of European Memory and Conscience, as supported by the European Parliament and the EU Council in 2009, must be completed at EU level. Individual governments must live up to their commitments regarding the work of the Platform.
- As an act of recognition of the victims and respect for the immense suffering inflicted upon half of the continent, Europe must erect a memorial to the victims of world Communism, following the example of the memorial in the USA in Washington, D.C.
- Conference opening (MP3, 13,3 MB)
- I. Communist regimes and crimes against humanity: Naděžda Kavalírová, Martin Mejstřík a Dainius Žalimas / Host: Jiří Liška, Vice-President of the Senate (MP3, 12,8 MB)
- II. Crimes committed by communist regimes in the former Soviet Union, the new EU member states, Germany and the Balkans - studies of individual states I: Nikita V. Petrov, Toomas Hiio, Valters Nollendorfs / Host: Alexandr Vondra, Senator, former dissident, former Deputy Prime Minister of European Affairs
(MP3, 21,3 MB)
- III. Crimes committed by the communist regimes - studies of individual states II : Hans Altendorf, Władysław Bułhak, Janos M. Rainer, Zianon Pazniak, Lubomír Morbacher / Host: Zuzana Vittvarová, founder, Association Enemy’s Daughters (MP3, 21,9 MB)
- IV. Crimes committed by the communist regimes - studies of individual states III: Andreja Valič, Marius Oprea, Vasil Kadrinov, Marina Jelic / Host: Zdeněk Křivka, Member, Confederation of political prisoners of the Czech Republic
(MP3, 17,9 MB)
- Welcome: Hubert Gehring, Opening Miroslava Němcová
V. Case study: Communist crimes in Czechoslovakia and their prosecution: Miroslav Lehký, Pavel Gregor, Eduard Stehlík / Host: Milan Hulík, lawyer, member of the Committee for the Defense of the Unjustly Persecuted (VONS) (MP3, 17,8 MB)
- VI. Sentencing of communist criminals – country studies: Christoph Schäfgen,Witold Kulesza, Jernej Letnar Černič, Raluca Grosescu / moderátor: Göran Lindblad, President, Political Affairs Committee, Vice-President, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (MP3, 16,7 MB)
- VII. Thick lines, limited justice and the consequences: Vytautas Landsbergis, Hynek Baňouch / Host: László Tökés, Bishop, former dissident, MEP (MP3, 19,7 MB)
- Speech by Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer at the Conference (MP3, 2,7 MB)
- Opening: Jana Hybášková, (Czech Republic), former MEP
VIII. Crimes of Communism and Nazism – what have we learned?: Anders Hjemdahl, Petr Brod, Milan Zver / Host: Sandra Kalniete, former dissident, MEP (MP3, 30,8 MB)
- X. International justice: UN tribunals, the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission: Ivana Janů, Alexandra Mihalcea, Ntsiki Sandi, Boris Burghardt / Host: Tunne Kelam, former dissident, MEP (MP3, 30,8 MB)