Members of Parliament, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Over the weekend, I was very pleased to visit the office of the Timisoara Society (of which I'm now proud to be a member), your Intercultural Institute, the Romanian Orthodox Cathedral, the Reform church formerly headed by Bishop Laszlo Tokes and the Museum of the Revolution.
As the now famous Proclamation of Timisoara notes, between December 16-20, 1989, the residents of this city waged a successful revolution against "one of the most powerful and hateful repressive systems of the world…on one side there was the barehanded population; on the other were the Securitate, the militia, the army and the zealous troops of party activists…Neither the arrests nor the harassment, not even the mass murders could stop them…On December 20 th, 1989 Timisoara was irrevocably in the population's hands and it turned into a free city within the huge prison that Romania had become."
I still recall being with hundreds of Romanian-Canadians and others at the Romanian embassy in Ottawa the night the Ceaucescu regime fell. As many of us as could squeeze into the building were eventually allowed to enter. The long nightmare was finally over.
You all know better than I do that one of the unresolved issues of your victory is this: how can it be, when totalitarianism was jettisoned across central and eastern Europe during 1989 with virtually no loss of life elsewhere, that 1104 children, women and men died violently across this country, including 104 in this city? Why were an additional 3352 civilians wounded?
It seems clear to all fair-minded observers that the democratic revolution, begun by Rev. Laszlo Tokes and his pregnant wife, and hundreds of supporters from many faith and other backgrounds at their church, was completed well before Dec 22 nd. Why then is it that approximately 942 of your 1104 martyrs for democracy across the country were murdered after December 22nd? Who killed them? After 18 years, when will those criminals be brought to trial?
Proclamation of Timisoara
In March, 1990, the Timisoara Society issued The Proclamation of Timisoara, which Ana Blandiana said was "the most important political text after '89 and in fact the only coherent program of changing the communist Romania into a democratic society." Could it not be said that your society paved the way towards an open society and democracy in Romania? To quote from the Proclamation: 'The ideal of our Revolution was and and is the return to the genuine values of European democracy and civilization".
The Proclamation added: "…a succession of occurrences in Romania, especially since January 28, 1990, have come to contradict the ideals of the Revolution of Timisoara". The signers expressed liberal democratic goals, which they saw as representing the revolutionary legacy. The best-known was the 8th point, calling for all former Communist Party nomenklatura and Securitate cadres to be banned from holding public office for a period of ten years (or three consecutive legislatures), with an emphasis on the office of President (Lustration).
Over the following months, the document was recognized and advocated by hundreds of civic associations, while almost four million citizens signed in favor of incorporating the 8th point into the electoral law.
We all know that open societies are characterized by:
· the rule of law,
· respect for human rights, minorities, diversity of opinions,
· democratically-elected governments,
· market economies in which business and government are normally separate, and
· an active civil society that helps keep the executive and legislative branches of government in check.
Your totalitarian period, which applied a system of government fundamentally out of sync with human nature, has evidently caused changes in normal human thinking among some of the Romanian people as it has elsewhere around the world. Ethical and spiritual practices among the Romanian people and elsewhere were evidently altered, which is sometimes the most difficult to undo. Complacency, however, is the worst foe of any democracy. If individuals wait passively for things to change anywhere, critical problems tend only to be cosmetically concealed and not fundamentally changed for the better.
Even though the situation was difficult, courageous steps have been taken in the direction of an open society in your country. Romanians generally should continue to support these attempts rather than wait for more to be changed. What else might be done to strengthen Romania as an open society with a strong civil society?
Inspired by the Societatea Timisoara and its Proclamation, I offer a few thoughts for consideration:
1. In totalitarian regimes, the individual is taught that he/she is unimportant. They do not matter. Their opinions do not count. This view must be unlearned. In building an open society after a long totalitarian period, a first principle to be taken into account is that human society represents a wholesome diversity in which each individual has distinctive features and roles, just like the differently coloured pieces in a very complex mosaic.
2. Each Romanian is entitled to know about the crimes of totalitarianism, the ones committed in prisons in Romania in the past, and today in other countries. Access to the authentic history of your country or mine is essential. Young people should study the history of Communism and learn that its inhuman dogmas never offer just or human solutions anywhere. Communism and Nazism, of course, are virtually indistinguishable in practice.
3. For too long, bad values were promoted all totalitarian societies. People must therefore relearn what is positive, constructive and creative . Fortunately, Romanians have many examples of exemplary people who dedicated and sacrificed their lives for noble causes and ideals. They should be promoted and made known as models for the younger generations. Such names as the following come to mind: Corneliu Coposu, Petre Tutea, Alexandru Zub, Ana Blandiana and Doina Cornea .
4. The Lustration Law should be adopted before the next elections if the Romanian people so wish . If so, why not for the European Parliamentary election too?
A special clause of the electoral law could ban former Communist party activists from running for the position of President of the country (according to the 8th Point of The Proclamation), for the Senate and for your lower house . Romania's presidents ought to be "symbols of the country's divorce from communism."
5. Independent judges selected by a Judicial Commission should be chosen to avoid partisanship in appointments.
6. The Judicial Commission should be comprised of persons beyond reproach who would recommend only the best qualified men and women to be judges.
7. The media should have an educational role. They should promote specific ideas for an open society and point out its advantages. Of course, commercial interests should be taken into account, but media in open societies should also seek to provide access to culture, values and diversity of opinions .
8. Both civil society and the media should inform the public about the practices and features of open societies that build prosperity, human rights and dignity, pluralism and the rule of law in democratic societies. Post-totalitarian societies sometimes have difficulty in understanding the nuances of democratic practices. Among the best features of open societies are their active civil societies and rule of law.
Romanians should be aware that a post-totalitarian society without the rule of law and ethical values, without a determination to promote both, will not heal its wounds and become a authentic open society.
9. Civil society organizations should inform Romanians about past and present totalitaritarian atrocities, using media, conferences, seminars, etc. If it's true that knowledge is power, it is also true that people should learn from mistakes in the past to avoid making them in the future. Romanians have China as a current example of what might have happened if communism had continued in their country.
Totalitarianism in Today's China
Let me refer here to the continuing closed society in China, in particular the regime's treatment of one of its own civil society groups, the Falun Gong, which has caused many of us to term next summer's Olympic in Beijing the "Bloody Harvest Olympics". As you know the world did not know about the Holocaust until after 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Many of us do know now what the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) continues to the Falun Gong community.
The report of David Matas and myself, available in Romanian and many other languages, at www.organharvestinvestigation.net, speaks carefully about "a new form of evil on this planet". We refer to the killing of Falun Gong practitioners- people who believe in the principles of truth-benevolence-forbearance - and harvesting their organs for commercial purposes.
I have the highest admiration for the people of China and their millennia of hard work, accumulated wisdom, success with agriculture, myriad inventions, international exploration, art, literature, philosophies and Confucian harmony earlier in governance.
In spite of its rich history, China's totalitarian governance, combined with 'anything goes' capitalism, unfortunately has demonstrated that the CCP capacity for violence and crimes against humanity remains virtually unlimited.
Our revised report of January with its appendices is 178 pages long in one edition, so I'll summarize here its major findings only briefly:
Since launching our independent investigation in May, 2006 at the request of the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong in China, Matas and I have concluded to our horror that the government of China and its agencies in numerous parts of the country have "put to death a large but unknown number of Falun Gong prisoners of conscience.
Their vital organs, including kidneys, livers, corneas and hearts, were seized involuntarily for sale at high prices, sometimes to foreigners, who normally face long waits for voluntary donations of such organs in their home countries."
In the summer of 1999 for reasons which seem mostly rooted in totalitarian paranoia, the party unleashed a campaign of media vilification and persecution which continues to the present.
Falun Gong is not a religion in the usual sense, but which religion cannot identify with the Falun Gong core principles of " truth, compassion and forbearance"? The inner serenity and non-violence its practitioners have demonstrated in the face of beatings, imprisonments, torture and murder across China since July, 1999 are strikingly reminiscent of what other spiritual communities faced with other despots in the distant and more recent past.
Falun Gong practitioners do a combination of five physical exercises and apply spiritual principles based on similar principles as Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, which are each major components of Chinese history. It grew in numbers from virtually nothing in 1992 to more than 70 million practitioners across China at the end of the nineties by one government of China estimate.
Falun Gong practitioners have since been arrested in huge numbers; they are imprisoned in 're-education camps' almost always without charge or trial and many have been tortured and forced to work long hours in export manufacturing facilities until they renounce their beliefs. Thousands of named practitioners have died as result of torture. The UN rapporteur on torture, Manfred Novak, found last year that two-thirds of those tortured in prisons across China are Falun Gong practitioners. Only Falun Gong prisoners among the general prison population are regularly blood tested and physically examined for a terrible reason which is now evident.
Virtually all organs transplanted in China come from executed prisoners, but this group comprises both convicted individuals and Falun Gong practitioners. As mentioned, the latter are rarely convicted of anything. Unlike convicts, they are in effect murdered by doctors and nurses with toxic inoculations and scalpels to provide organs for tissue compatible organ recipients, who pay large amounts of money for the organs (ranging from $30,000 US to $180,000 for a kidney-liver combination
The seizing of organs in China from Falun Gong practitioners is done in operating rooms. The victims are killed in the process and their bodies are cremated. The medical perpetrators of these acts are guilty of crimes against humanity and highly unlikely to confess.
Matas and I had callers telephoning hospitals and other institutions across China, posing as family members of persons needing organ transplants; in a wide variety of locations the respondents said that Falun Gong prisoners were the source of the organs.
We democrats around the world must be neither complacent nor over confident. There are still about 45 dictatorships in the world, which do much harm to both human beings and the natural environment.
Consider, for example, the appalling roles the government of China is playing in Sudan/Darfur, which has caused Mia Farrow to term the Beijing Olympics of next summer "the Genocide Olympics", Burma/Mynamar, Zambabwe, North Korea and in undermining democracy and human dignity across much of Asia and elsewhere.
Look at what the same regime is doing to its own people, including independent journalists, human rights activists, democrats, religious communities, Uyghurs, Tibetans and many others. In respect of the large Falun Gong community as mentioned, it is simply inconceivable that the government hosting the Olympic Games in one part of its capital city could be simultaneously killing some of its own people for profit in another district of the same city. This terrible commercial practice must stop now.
Whether in Romania, China or Canada, human dignity is ultimately indivisible across our shrunken world today.