Friday, August 24, 2018

Our Common Western Values

Memorial to the Victims of Communismin Tallinn
Today, 23 August 2018, was Black Ribbon Day — the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism. In Estonia, the day was marked with the opening of a national memorial to the victims of communism. The ceremony included speeches by President Kersti Kaljulaid, Justice Minister Urmas Reinsalu, and Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces, Gen. Riho Terras.

Like so many years before, the only event marking Black Ribbon Day in Finland was held at the Lenin Museum in Tampere. As awareness in other western countries of the importance of Black Ribbon Day to our future generations and to our understanding of our common history rises from year to year, Finland remains silent. The Finnish Anti-Fascist Committee renews its call to designate 23 August as a national flag day.

In an op-ed published in Finland's leading daily, Helsingin Sanomat, Kimmo Sasi, long-time MP and former Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Human Rights of the Council of Europe, suggested that Finland needed a museum highlighting the crimes against humanity committed by fascist and communist regimes. The Finnish Anti-Fascist Committee concurs. We have proposed earlier that the Lenin Museum be renamed Museum of the Victims of Totalitarianism.

We are living in a time when the world's only superpower is being led by a president who pursues "post-truth" policies and seems to inhabit a parallel reality. Another great power represents stability without human rights, and the third major power is a state armed with nuclear weapons and led by a usurpator who is a war criminal.

Each moment in history has its own doomsday sayers. The Finnish Anti-Fascist Committee is not one of them. Nevertheless, Black Ribbon Day reminds us all of the importance of our common western values, especially in uncertain times like these. Our values help guide us when making our most important choices.

23 August 1939 was an example of great power politics based on lies and violence. On that day 79 years ago, Stalin's Soviet Union and Hitler's Nazi Germany made a pact that divided Europe into spheres of influence. As a result, Europe was plunged into a devastating war, Finland was attacked by the Soviet Union, the Baltic States were occupied, and half of Europe was subjugated by two totalitarian dictatorships.

The summit between the U.S. and Russian presidents in Finland this summer made many of us think of those events 79 years ago. Our fears were not and are not without reason. However, history does not repeat itself unless we really want it to. This is why it is very important to remind everyone, time and time again, of that fateful day 79 years ago.

The Finnish Anti-Fascist Committee deplores the Finnish government's Finnofobic stance that fails to protect our country's integrity with sufficient clarity and courage. A Finland without a vision is a Finland without values. Finnish society needs to defend itself against foreign iniquity and violence. Democracy, human rights, and free speech deserve and need to be defended.

Taipalsaari, 23 August 2018

Antti-Pekka Mustonen
Finnish Anti-Fascist Committee

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