Archive for the ‘News’ category

Parliamentarium Museum Will Add Content Illustrating Soviet Aggression

March 20, 2014

In response to a letter sent by MEPs Sandra Kalniete (Latvia), Doris Pack (Germany), Jacek Protasiewicz (Poland), Tunne Kelam (Estonia), Vytautas Landsbergis (Lithuania), and Monica Macovei (Romania) the Parliamentarium Museum will add content illustrating Soviet aggression.

In their letter sent on May 22nd 2013, MEPs expressed their concern that the museum of the European Parliament did not adequately address the role of the Soviet Union in starting World War Two and their perpetration of grave crimes against humanity. “While the Parlamentarium museum addresses the grave atrocities committed by the Nazi Regime and Nazi Germany’s role as aggressor in World War Two, we find it disheartening that similar acts committed by the Soviet Union and their role as ally of Nazi Germany and co-aggressor at the start of the war are not mentioned.”

After reviewing the content, the Directorate General for Communication of the Parliamentarium Unit has confirmed that the section addressing the history before the European Union will be revised. Currently consultation is taking place with museums dedicated to Soviet crimes in order to select the most appropriate images. As the content has been confirmed we will update this article.

The ban of totalitarian symbols is not considered necessary by the President of the EP

March 5, 2014

In December 2013, Transylvanian MEP László Tőkés, Hungarian MEP George Schöpflin, Latvian MEPs Sandra Klaniete and Inese Vaidere, Lithuanian MEPs Laima Liucija Andrikiené and Vytautas Landsbergis, as well as Slovenian MEP Milan Zver addressed a letter to the President of the European Parliament, in which they requested a ban of symbols of totalitarian regimes.

Referring to the epoch-making European Parliament Resolution of 2 April 2009 on European conscience and totalitarianism, the undersigning EPP Group Members reminded the Socialist President that “Europe will not be united unless it is able to form a common view of its history, recognizes Nazism, Stalinism and Fascist and Communist regimes as a common legacy and brings about an honest and thorough debate on their crimes in the past century.” Further, they draw the attention of Martin Schulz to the fact that while the usage, denial and/or disparagement of totalitarian symbols is prohibited and considered a criminal offense in some Member States, these virulent phenomena occur on a daily basis in other Member States.

“We turn to you, Mr. President with the respectful request that you ban the use of symbols of dictatorships inside the European Parliament and all its public premises, in particular the swastika, red star as well as the hammer and sickle. We similarly recommend that the European Parliament make a proposal on the ban of dictatorial symbols in all EU member states. It is our firm conviction that it would be truly worthy of the EU’s spirit and image, as a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize,” concluded the letter.

“As you surely are aware the European Parliament has been throughout its existence an undeniable pillar of freedom, democracy, non-discrimination and rule of law in Europe and indeed at a global level and has never hesitated to reaffirm the values it stands for,” replied The President on 14 February 2014, however he did not consider the ban of genocidal totalitarian symbols necessary. Nevertheless, a general ban of totalitarian symbols would have had a strong message to the European people who had suffered under the brutality of both rightist and leftist dictatorships.

Diplomatically avoiding the request itself, President Schulz cited the Rules governing cultural events and exhibitions on Parliament’s premises, stating that “these rules are, and will be in the future, an effective tool to avoid any undue displays of potentially disturbing images or symbols within the European Parliament.”

On 25 February, the Memorial Day for the Victims of Communism, Transylvanian MEP Tőkés said that 25 years after the fall of soviet-communist dictatorships double standards still prevail in the European Union, and the silent toleration of communist symbols continues violating the memory of millions of victims.  

Strasbourg, 25 February 2014

Former Communist prison commander charged with genocide denies charges, says he has no regrets

January 29, 2014

Source: January 14, 2014, Associated Press

A man charged with genocide for the deaths of political prisoners at a lockup he commanded when Romania was a Communist country pleaded innocent on Tuesday.

Alexandru Visinescu, 87, is accused of responsibility for the deaths of six inmates at the Ramnicu Sarat prison from 1956 to 1963. Prosecutors said prisoners there were routinely subjected to beatings, hunger, insufficient medical treatment, and exposure to the cold.

No date has been set for Visinescu’s trial.

During a closed hearing Tuesday, he denied the charge.

Afterward, reporters asked the defendant whether he had any regrets, and Visinescu replied: “No way.”

About 500,000 Romanians were condemned as political prisoners in the 1950s as the nation’s Communist government sought to crush all dissent. Prosecutors say Visinescu participated in efforts to wipe them out. One-fifth of these prisoners died in custody, historians have said.

In October, Ion Ficior was charged with genocide for his alleged roles in the deaths of 103 political prisoners when he served as deputy commander, then commander, of the Periprava labor camp in 1958-1963.

Prosecutors say he “introduced and coordinated a repressive detention regime, which was abusive and inhuman” against political prisoners.

Both cases were brought to light by a Romanian government institute that investigates Communist-era crimes.

About 3,500 former Romanian political prisoners from the 1950s and 1960s are still alive. That is far below the 40,000 who were alive when Communism was overthrown in Romania in 1989.

Link to original

Members of the REH group, in the European Parliament, welcomed the decision to dismantle symbols of totalitarianism in Georgia

January 29, 2014

Chair of the Reconciliation of European Histories group (REH), MEP Sandra Kalniete, in a letter to the Speaker of the Georgian Parliament expresses satisfaction with the amendment to the Liberty Charter, adopted by the Georgian Parliament on December the 25th. The new amendment is aimed at actual enforcement of measures to prevent public displays of symbols of totalitarian regimes. This act should effectively stop the construction of monuments dedicated to Joseph Stalin, started last year.

Last year, on behalf of the REH group, Ms. Kalniete turned to senior officials in the Georgian government, expressing outrage at the fact that Georgia had approved plans to erect monuments in honour of the murderous leader of the Soviet Union. In addition, steps were taken for the European Parliament to formally condemning such behaviour. With the recent decision, Ms. Kalniete feels satisfaction that the work of the REH group may have contributed to the Georgian Parliament’s decision.

After Georgia’s decision to amend the law, MEPs were pleased to learn that the Stalin monument recently built in the city of Telavi was immediately removed. The law now provides real penalties for the glorification of communist and fascist regimes and facilitates the creation of a panel to identify and prevent such violations.

In the letter sent to the Speaker of the Georgian Parliament, Ms. Kalniete expressing support for the parliamentary decision and emphasised that this decision corresponds with European values and will help strengthen the already strong relationship between the EU and Georgia.

 Link to an article on the Georgian decision

 

 

Platform will seek establishment of a supranational court for international crimes committed by Communists

June 7, 2012

Source: The Platform of European Memory and Conscience
Prague/Brussels, 7 June 2012.

The Platform of European Memory and Conscience is calling for the creation of a supranational judicial body for the gravest crimes committed by the Communist dictatorships. The call was announced at the conclusion of the international conference “Legal Settlement of Communist Crimes“ held on 5 June, 2012 in the European Parliament in Brussels under the auspices of a number of Members of the European Parliament, including its two former Presidents, Mr Jerzy Buzek and Mr HansGert Pöttering. (more…)

Bulgarian documentary “Goryani” (2011) reveals Bulgarians’ resistance against communism

February 8, 2012

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

At the end of 2011 Andrey Kovatchev, Vice-chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament and Member of the Reconciliation of European Histories Group, supported the distribution of the Bulgarian documentary “Goryani” (“mountain dwellers” in Eng.) directed by Mr Atanas Kirjakov. 

“Goryani” is devoted to one of the most traumatic, but also most remarkable moments of the new Bulgarian history – the resistance movement of the Goryani against the communist rule in the period between 1944 and 1956. The film is based on authentic archival and documental evidence, as well as the memories of living members of the movement and their successors. The film was first presented on 27 September 2011 and it was greeted with huge interest by the Bulgarian civil society. (more…)

Spain’s Franco-era probe judge Baltasar Garzon on trial

January 30, 2012
BBC News, 24 January 2012

A high-profile Spanish judge has gone on trial accused of violating a 1977 amnesty law by investigating civil war and Franco-era crimes.

Baltasar Garzon is accused by two right-wing groups of overstepping his powers by trying to prosecute crimes committed between 1936 and 1975.

The case has reignited the debate about the way Spain has dealt with its past. (more…)