On a Tuesday afternoon, there was a protest rally at the U.S. Embassy in Vilnius in a defence of national minorities. Almost 500 people participated in this demonstration.
”The United States is the biggest guarantor and defender of democracy in the world. And what is democracy? Democracy is a majority rule with a respect for minority’s rights. Lithuania fails to defend our rights, it does not respect the content of legal acts and international conventions that Lithuania signed and ratificated.Today, we are forced to ask a big country for a political support” – Renata Cytacka said, the president of the Forum of Parents from the Polish Schools of the Šalčininkai District, a Vilnius city council member.
After the end of the rally, the petition was handed to U.S. Ambassador Deborah A. McCarthy.
”The education reform, currently realised by the ruling coalition of the local government of the city of Vilnius, discriminates the national minority education, clearly makes the situation of national minority education in Vilnius worse and restricts our children’s rights to learn in their native language. It is necessary in the field of education to create such conditions in which national minorities’ members would be able to enhance their identity and study in their national languages is the national minorities members’ right”- it was, among others, written in the petition.
Its authors reminded that they stand up in a defence of Wł. Syrokolma High School, J. Lelewel High School, Sz. Konarski High School, High School in Leszczyniaki, Lew Karsawin High School, A. Puszkin High School, Centro High School, School at Lipówka, Saulėtekio School, Senamiesčio School and Berželis School – Kindergarten. The organizers of the protest stressed that existence of these institutions is being in danger because of the reorganization plans, liquidations or postponing the accreditation process.
”We agree to a compromise – a decision that will satisfy both sides, not just one. Authoritarian school does not exist anymore, now we have democratic school in which the ruler is not an official but a school community. Although there is no court’s decision, the Vilnius authorities one-sidely seek to implement a hurtful decision that was made by conservative-liberal coalition – against J. Lelewel School community’s voice and opinion, against the parents and guardians’ will ”-Beata Barosiewicz said, the president of J. Lelewel High School Protection Committee.
Władysław Syrokomla High School is one of the best and the largest schools in Vilnius. Parents trust the school and respect it for a high level of a knowledge that has been passed on, for the ability of building children and families friendly atmosphere. During 62 years of work, the school has proved to have a right for issuing the certificates of maturity for a further decades. Since the school’s beginnings, its education policy bases on Christian values”-Danuta Korkus pointed, a teacher og Wladyslaw Syrokolma High School
Due to the police data, about 400-500 persons participated in the rally. The organizers had a permission for a rally up to 300 participants.
Tłumaczenie by Aleksandra Nowakowska w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Aleksandra Nowakowska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.