“My grandfather – my grandfather’s cousin – was a Catholic priest who was placed in a labor camp when the Communist regime tried to savagely destroy all monasteries,” said Miriam, one of dozens of legislators around the world. said Lexmann, who had gathered in Rome. Last weekend on the sidelines of the G20 summit.
His message to the leaders of the world’s richest countries: Take a tough stand on the Chinese government, and stand up for those who are threatened by Beijing’s policies, from Xinjiang to Taiwan.
The so-called “counter-meeting” was organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), which included about 200 lawmakers from countries as diverse as Italy, the Czech Republic, Canada, Belgium, Sweden, Uganda, Japan, India and the United States. Australia, UK, Ireland, France and Switzerland.
For many participating European members, the sense of urgency to stand up to China stems from bitter memories of communist repression within the now defunct Soviet Union.
Lexman, a member of the European Parliament representing Slovakia, said that during Soviet times, many people considered dangerous to the regime in his country were taken to labor camps.
In a phone interview from Rome, she told the VOA, “Many were killed in those camps because of the terrible conditions.” “My grandfather died in 1952,” two years after he was moved.
Grandfather’s brother was also a Catholic priest, and was imprisoned for nine years for participating in a movement to tell foreigners and countrymen alike what was going on inside the Slovak territory of Czechoslovakia.
“Both of these grandchildren died long before I was born,” said Lexman, who was born in 1971. But another member of the family, whom she knew as a child, was active in an underground church in Czechoslovakia.
“They organized a candle demonstration in 1988. People carrying candles went to one of the main squares of Bratislava and demanded that Czechoslovakia act in accordance with the international human rights treaty signed by the country’s government,” she said.
Such memories, Lexman said, helped him understand what totalitarian regimes are, as well as what people did to fight against them. “All of this has helped me see why it is important to protect human freedom,” she said.
Memories of the Soviet regime also helped inspire Doville Saqlin to move from his home in Lithuania to Rome to attend the IPAC meeting.
“Lithuania is suffering badly under Soviet communist rule,” she said. “Unfortunately, what the Chinese government is doing at many levels is worse.”
Yes, neighbors in the Soviet Union were told to spy on each other, she said. “But no one came to your house, sat on your couch and stayed in your house 24-7 to see how you were feeling after taking a member of your family to camp.”
The Lithuanian lawmaker said this is what happens in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region, when members of the Uighur Muslim population are imprisoned.
“We must raise the question: is this really going to live within China’s borders? Are we all, in 20 or 30 years’ time, going to be living in neighborhood grid-control systems, spying on each other? , reporting on each other?
“This is not a rhetorical question,” she continued, pointing out that China now has the technology and manpower to “produce painful generation after generation” – not just to invade their private lives, Rather his personal life has been put aside.
Saqlin said Beijing is ready to use the technology not only to control the population “but is constantly developing (new) technology to monitor humans even more (closer).”
The Chinese government has repeatedly defended its policies in Xinjiang, maintaining that what the West describes as detention camps are actually training facilities where Uighurs are imparted new skills.
But for Pavel Fischer, chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee in the Czech Republic, “what we are seeing in China happened to us during Soviet times, as my parents would say.”
Fischer, who spoke to VOA from Prague, also traveled to Rome to participate in the IPAC bid to raise awareness of what was happening in China and the impact China’s political system is having on the rest of the world.
“It is our duty to share our experiences” of life under communism, said Fischer, 56, who served for eight years as an aide to Czech dissident and playwright Václav Havel, the country’s first democratically elected president. Become.
That duty includes showing support for Taiwan by Fischer, Lexman, Saqlin and others who gathered in Rome last week.
Foreign Affairs Minister Joseph Wu on the self-governing island also spoke at the IPAC event, which was attended by activists from Hong Kong and Xinjiang.
Last week, Wu visited Slovakia and the Czech Republic before making a stop in a diplomatic coup at the European Union’s headquarters in Brussels, which Beijing denounced as Kuan-Fang, which roughly translates to “a robbery’s visit”. was translated as