- September 16, 2012
Day and night protest for Poles in Lithuania
Friday, 14th of September, 1 p.m., OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) – five-person delegation of protestants is signing petition under the supervision of cameramen, than they are calling an entry phone. Only two people can came in, but without journalists, knowledge on English is well seen. However spokesman for OBWE High Commissioner was enough kind to come out to see his guests. The thing had so much importance that the media can shoot from behind the fence the whole conversation, it was also heard by other three protestants. Me, representative for Memoriae Fidelis, and Dr. Krzysztof Kawęcki representing the Right-wing of Polish politics. Our interlocutor asked in Polish if we speak English, because he would rather speak that language. That is why rest of the talk we continue in English.
We wanted to express our gratitude to the High Commissioner, because we know that it has scheduled in the matter, we are interested – I said. We would like to thank you for sending international observers to Lithuania at the time of elections, but we would appreciate your response to changing constituencies against the Poles in Lithuania – added. W were assured that the High Commisionner will held this matter. That is how in short can be described our conversation.
About 14.00 according to the plan we have showed up at the Prime Minister’s Office. Gathered about 30 people there. After welcoming all I read an appeal to the Prime Minister, signed by several organizations. Then I gave the voice to Dr. Krzysztof Kawęcki, and later to Adam Chajewski and to Seweryn Szwarocki (association KoLiber). Then, after signing an appeal to the Prime Minister, our four-person delegation went to the building where we were treated to tea by Mrs. Grażyna Wilamowska, deputy director of the Department of Complaints and Service Requests Refugee Council.
After discussing this appeal we gave it to him. Each of us said his comments about Lithuanian party’s actions and how Prime Minister’s Office could help. Unfortunately Journalists were not allowed inside. We said goodbye and went to the embassy of Lithuania, where was already waiting for us a group of people. Attendance has increased a bit, but then crowd of gathered people has melted and oscillated between 10-14 people (in one of the critical moments were a few people), which have to deal with logistics, bringing food and chairs. This situation has stayed until the evening, despite the continuous rotation of a large group of people on duty. 7 stayed all night until seven in the morning, and they took part in protest from the beginning.
Perhaps the most pleasing parts of the protest was the phone call from the president of the Society of Lovers of Vilnius and Vilnius Earth from Łódź, whose voice resounded from the tube, fairly modern equipment that we tested. We had a „dumplings festival” (hot!) with different tastes, what allowed us to survive less pleasant things – especially harassing cold at night. Even before the evening when dusk settled, we saw Mrs. Ambassador leaving in her car, which led personally and she even didn’t look at us with her freezing eyes.
One of the most distinctive parts of the evening were long talks with Eldoradas Butrimas. Proving the validity of one’s own opinion was pointless after trying several times to prove him certain things, he run away from them in the discussion. He said things that amazed us. On the one hand, mentioned that he supports the demands of the plates and the names, after equating the treatment of minorities in Poland and Lithuania, noting that his family can not have three forms of names in Poland. As we have heard – the others are in fact the tip of his name in Lithuanian for him, his wife and daughter. I replied that he asks for three forms of endings, but we are forbidden to use one or two.
Being present during the conversation Mr. Adam Chajewski said that if officially he will support our protest, we will support his demand. However, I think it was just a trick. According to matters concerning the earth he defended the honor of the Republic of Lithuania in a very surprising way: literally said that we can’t blame Lithuanians, because the law of the land returning is like from mafia (sic!). But someone pass a bill – I said – most of parliament members selected in your elections.
At first he told me that the law is wrong, of course, he tried to tell me that Lithuanians are equally disadvantaged. I wanted to grab his own statement that the law is bad, but he stated that in our country are bad laws too (though it would be an excuse and to have anything to do with the case). But you admit that it was theft, which by the procedure of land transfer, land was stolen mainly from Poles, because they live in most of the region of Vilnius? He answered: What theft? No thievery, they got land elsewhere. I told him about the difference in the value of land, sometimes reaching more zeros, and he still insisted that, despite all of this it is not stealing.
I decided to explain it to him by the rule of thumb: If someone is against your will and agreement, and he will exchange your Porsche for Syrenka car (maybe I should take the example of an old Łada for Butrimas), it is not stealing? This time he said that it does not, because the land at the time of restitution was not in the hands of its owners. Lithuanian used the argument about Soviets, who took the land, but at the same time didn’t hesitate to reprimand them. He said that in Poland there are problems with the returning properties (I replied that the problems with the repayments are not based on ethnic key, as in Lithuania), than he came to the conclusion that the Bierut’s decree was good … I decided to write this, although you can guess that he didn’t mean the issue of Warsaw reconstruction. Spoken decree was truly theft. Coldness was really gnawing.
Using already known arguments, of course, Lithuanian journalist said that Lithuania on its territory can do everything, and this is normal. I asked whether the Soviet Union could on the occupied territories, recognized as his own, throw people to the camp, and if this should be recognized for its internal affair. Butrimas did not respond. Then he started another thread of discussion. He brought up various topics such as the Lithuanian minority in Poland or problems of Poles in Lithuania (He admitted that the Poles in Lithuania have them? Not necessarily – at another time he can tell something else.). He also talked about ridiculously minor issues. I told him that it can be said that both: the cutting off a hand and finger injury are painful problems. A few hours earlier.
Eldoradas Butrimas could say that Poland and Lithuania closes schools, but they do Lithuanian governments – I responded tired. No, not at all – he said. Our answer: well then who by law can ever close the school? We also talked about the treaty, Adam Chajewski, present at the discussion, first he proved one thing, but then he got confused trying to explain other case. He added something about sending the data. I have doubted myself in the sense of the discussion and walked away, but there were our two colleagues who ran with freshly printed for discussion Polish-Lithuanian treaty, pointing a finger specific passages to him, but apparently it has not led to any effect.
Lithuanian correspondent, seems to be trying to lower our morale, asking: Why are so few people? (It was 14 people). I answer, because the protest was spread over a number of hours and is rotation. Then he began to depart from the truth, saying that there is always more or less that number of people. The lowest attendance ever for our registered meeting took place in July 2011, in front of the Prime Minister’s Office and it was 25 people. I do not include spontaneous protests (for example when Lithuanian politician is coming to Warsaw). Where there is no time for the submission of paper to the office it can not be more than 14 people by the law. Not knowing the whereabouts we have no chance to register meeting on a particular street. So it was with Grybauskaitė, Kubilius, Landzbergis and others who honored RP by their presence. I told him that it would be good if they know us well.
This is the standard way to attack. The Polish-language portal Delfi, in our opinion, has a task to turn Poles from Vilnius into people who want to get rid of them. We can read there: On Friday and Saturday before the Lithuanian Embassy in Warsaw was another protest against the violation of the rights of Polish minorities in Lithuania. Participants brought banners with the slogans “The Lithuanian authorities rob the land from Poles” and “Stop discrimination against Poles in Lithuania”. Manifestation gathered only 20 people.
The author didn’t count precisely people in front of the embassy, what more he does not mention campaign in front of the Prime Minister’s Office. He has also not written anything about the rotation of people, and clearly mentioned that he was concerned about the Friday and Saturday, the whole protest not one element (but he wrote only about the embassy). Every time when the Lithuanian portals are enclosing pictures, they are manipulated to show tendentious deserted building. Just technological substitution of reality, however, their usage is irrelevant. Returning to Butrimas: he refused to taste our dumplings. With a hint of admiration he asked us if he come at five in the morning, are we going to sit here. We replied that we will wait for him. He did not come and described us disapprovingly in Lietuvos Rytas, writing a little bit of crap. Such a life.
Tłumaczenie Anna Ładna w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Anna Ładna the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.