Famous Czechs join campaign against the death penalty in Belarus (VIDEO)
Karel Schwarzenberg, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic, Oscar-winning screenwriter and actor Zdeněk Svěrák and gymnast, seven-time Olympic champion Věra Čáslavská have signed a petition of the campaign “Human Rights Defenders against the Death Penalty in Belarus”.
Each of the signatories gave their arguments against the capital punishment, both in Belarus and worldwide.
Karel Schwarzenberg: A large number of people were executed by mistake
The politician said that “during his entire political life he has been fighting against the death penalty”. This struggle was prompted by the understanding that a large number of people were executed by mistake. He regretted that thousands of people in the 20th and 21st centuries “were executed for political reasons and not because they committed a crime”.
Mr. Schwarzenberg is former chairman of the Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, and he protested against the death penalty in the United States and in all the few European countries where it is still preserved. “I think it’s a barbaric method, which has no justification today. As you know, a few decades ago the Helsinki Accords were signed, or Declaration, according to which we can speak about the development of the issue of human rights in other countries. It was a great success of its time, and that became the basis for founding Helsinki Committees across Europe. Everyone who signed it then (for today’s Belarus it was signed by the Soviet Union, but Belarus and Ukraine were also separate countries, so they signed it, too) are bound by it. This means that we have the right to speak on the issue of human rights everywhere, be it Portugal, Spain, Sweden or Belarus,” he stressed.
Zdeněk Svěrák: If you want to organize a hockey championship, where there are strict rules, it would be worth following the rules observed by Europe, including on the death penalty
Noting a greater likelihood of miscarriage of justice resulting in innocent people losing their lives, Mr. Svěrák opines that “shooting someone’s head will be cheaper than holding him for life”, but stresses that by maintaining the death penalty we also become killers.
The famous scriptwriter and director believes that, being a Czech, he is obliged to speak about the death penalty in Belarus: “I think that it’s hard to say this for people who live in a dictatorship, they cannot do it, but we can speak freely, and we cannot be silent. I have to say: look, if you want to organize a hockey championship, where there are some strict rules, such as offsides and cruelties, it too would be worth to follow the rules observed by Europe, instead of being the only country, which still has the medieval death penalty.”
Věra Čáslavská: Life is entirely a matter of heaven and earth
The famous athlete says that she does not support the death penalty anywhere, neither in America nor anywhere else in the world, “because life is, in fact, entirely a matter of heaven and earth, it is not something that man decides”. Ms. Čáslavská recalls how she was struck by a death sentence to Milada Horáková*, “because her execution further strengthened the Communist regime”.
“Nobody can go against nature. It exactly concerns the death penalty,” she says.
* Milada Horáková was a Czech politician executed by Communists following a show trial in 1950 in Prague. Out of 13 defendants involved in the trial, four were eventually executed, despite many famous people, notably Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill and Eleanor Roosevelt, petitioning for her life. Milada Horáková was executed by particularly torturous intentionally slow strangulation, which according to historians took 15 minutes.