About the conference

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The annual international conference of the Platform of European Memory and Conscience on the theme “The forced displacement of populations and waves of migration in 20th century Europe caused by the policy of totalitarian states“ will be held in the historic town of Viljandi, Estonia on 28–30 June 2016.
Co-organisers are the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory and the Unitas Foundation. A broad range of topics will be considered at the conference, starting from the time of the beginnings of the Soviet Union until the collapse of the Eastern Bloc at the onset of the 1990s.

The aim will be to try and create an overview of deportation and emigration from totalitarian dictatorships in Europe – during the time of National socialism and during Communism. The political, social, demographic and economic consequences of emigration will be discussed, as well as the political life of émigré communities in exile and the role of different émigré communities after the collapse of the Soviet Union and fall of the totalitarian systems in Eastern Europe. The lessons from the past will be confronted with current developments. The conference will conclude with a panel discussion on the massive emigration from war and conflict regions in the Middle East and North Africa to Europe, its reasons, historical roots and parallels.

As a highlight, during the conference the Prize of the Platform of European Memory and Conscience 2016 will be awarded to a person/persons who are fighting today against totalitarianism, for the ideals of democracy, fundamental human rights and freedoms and the rule of law. The previous laureates of the Prize were Mustafa Dzhemilev, leader of the Crimean Tatar People in 2014, and the brothers Alexei and Oleg Navalny, unjustly persecuted in the Russian Federation, in 2015.