Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Latvian Museum of Occupation

I spent this afternoon looking around Latvia's Museum of Occupation, which deals with the Nazi and Soviet occupations of this young country from the 1930s until 1991. The mass slaughter, torture and concentration camps of both sides are horrifying.

Seeing the details of the struggle against three successive invasions and occupation, and the eventual triumph of the Latvian people, was a very moving experience. Walking around Riga and enjoying its architecture, restaurants and bars, it is almost impossible to believe that these monstrosities were taking place in Europe until only 15 years ago. The US and EU nations deserve strong praise for standing up to the Soviet menace for the 45 years of the Cold War.

And yet today, the same US and European states are committing and facilitating torture, extraordinary rendition and secret prisons in the "war on terror." I felt particularly angry that the museum's copy of the letter from President George H. W. Bush congratulating the Latvian people on their independence in 1991 is so defiled by the actions of his son's administration.

I truly despair that our own prime minister is complicit in these actions. The longer they go on, the more strongly I feel that Bush and Blair must be tried for their criminal acts in the hope that future generations will not look back at the US and UK in the way that we now view the Nazi and Soviet regimes.

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