- March 15, 2012
A fuss about the rally of 17th March
A Polish rally in defense of the Polish education, planned for 17th March, raises more and more emotions. After the information that hooligans and nationalists are supposed to join, Lithuanian media attacked from the other side. It was reminded that exactly on 17th March 1938 Poland issued an ultimatum to Lithuania, in which it demanded the establishment of diplomatic relations. MP of the EAPL, Jarosław Narkiewicz asked the Prosecution General of Lithuania to initiate an investigation on a number of publications in the Lithuanian media, which – in his opinion – incite ethnic strife and deliberately mislead the society of Lithuania. Known for its anti-Polish sentiments, magazine “Voruta” recently published many texts (“Ultimatum”, “Interfront attacks or what was not achieved by Bronisław Komorowski”), suggesting that the march and the rally of Poles on 17th March, does not refer to the adopted last year Act on Education, but to the ultimatum from 74 years ago! The signatory of the Act of Independence of Lithuania, Romualdas Ozolas turned even to the authorities of Lithuania with a suggestion that the secret reason of the organisers of the rally is directly supported by the Self-Government of the city of Vilnius, which agreed for the organisation of this action exactly on this day. Articles, similar in content, were published also in the daily news “Lietuvos žinios” – one of them already with the title that scream “Second Act of humiliation of Lithuania”!
After these publications, eleven Lithuanian MPs turned to the Self-Government of the city of Vilnius with the request to move the Polish rally for another date, namely because of the ambiguous historical connotations and the likelihood of riots caused by hooligans from Poland. The authorities of Vilnius (the governing coalition includes also the EAPL) did not treat these arguments as serious and did not revoke the permit for this action. Deputy Director of the Department of Safe City in the Administration of the Self-Government of the city of Vilnius, Julius Morkūnas concluded that it is a “blowing of the soap bubble” on the basis of media information, because neither police nor security forces perceive any danger.
MPs of the EAPL (Jarosław Narkiewicz, Michał Mackiewicz and Leonard Talmont) issued a complaint based on the above mentioned publications not only to the prosecution, but also to the Inspector of Journalistic Ethics. In a special statement, they stressed their concern with the fact of the growth of activities of the groups linked to the currently governing Centre-Right, which lead towards the incitation of nationalistic relations. In the opinion of Polish MPs, the MPs of the coalition, governing already last year, decided on the date of this protest by passing the controversial Act on Education, while present actions – are an attempt to focus all historical grievances and sorrows towards the Polish nation on the Polish community of the Vilnius region.
The statements of the protest’s committees negating the invitation of anyone from outside of Lithuania for this action and opposing of the historical undertones of the rally were pointless. On the eve of the rally (Friday), the organisers are inviting everyone to the Gate of Dawn for a common prayer “in the intention of the Polish education in Lithuania and a peaceful course of the protest in its defense” (11.00).
Let us remind that on 17th March 1938, as a result of the armed incident on the Polish-Lithuanian border (a Polish soldier of the Border Protection Corps died), Warsaw demanded from Lithuania an immediate and unconditional establishment of diplomatic relations. After two days, Lithuania agreed on the normalisation of the relations, agreeing in this way for the belonging of Vilnius region to Poland, which was seen by a part of the Lithuanian society as insult, humiliation and violence on the part of the bigger neighbour. “The real background of the entire action was, however, the willingness for an agreement of Lithuanian communities, wishing to normalise the relations with the Polish government, and not being able at the same time to overcome the strongly anti-Polish attitude in the government of their own country” (Wikipedia).
Last year, after passing of the Act on Education, which in the opinion of Polish activists and teachers is the beginning of the end of Polish education on Lithuania, the historical allusions were not heard and no one named the amendment a „Lithuanian revenge for the Polish ultimatum”.
On the basis of: BNS, Wikipedia, own information.
Tłumaczenie Małgorzata Juchniewicz w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Małgorzata Juchniewicz within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.