The Speaker of Bulgaria’s National Assembly, Tsveta Karayancheva, was among those who paid their respects at a June 1 ceremony at Belene to the victims of the totalitarian regime at the former prison camp on the Persin island.
It is difficult to return to the moments in history when human nature showed its ugliest side, but it was very important that these should not be forgotten, said Karayancheva, a senior member of Bulgaria’s centre-right GERB party.
“The only antidote against the atrocities of the past is an awakened memory, passed down from generation to generation,” Karayancheva said.
“Not so long ago, men and women were brought here, whose main guilt was that they wanted to live in dignity,” she said.
“Too little time has passed for use to be able to look at these events dispassionately as a history that has long passed,” Karayancheva said.
Belene is a wasteland of broken destinies, of crushed lives, of oppressed talents, of the right to self-determination denied, she said.
Belene was a symbol of Bulgaria’s 45-year isolation from the free world, outrage, fear, and political misgivings, she added.
Those participating in the now-traditional pilgrimage to the memorial to the victims of totalitarianism at the camp included MPs, representatives of national and local authorities, and members of the public.
The year 2019 marks 70 years since the commencement of the use of the Belene camp by the communist regime in Bulgaria, which seized power at the close of the Second World War and held the country in its thrall until the fall of the Berlin Wall at the beginning of the 1990s.
Belene was one of a number of communist-era political prisoner camps in Bulgaria. In the first years of the communist regime, a “People’s Court” process resulted in death sentences and imprisonment for many thousands of Bulgarians that the regime saw as its enemies.