- September 21, 2012
Lithuanian priest defends Poles in the Kaunas region
On Saturday, 22th September, Poles from Wędziagoła (Vandžiogala) in Kaunas region, want to protest against discrimination on grounds of nationality at the head of a Lithuanian priest Oskaras Volskis. The protest was to take place during the celebration of 628 years of the town, but the Kaunas region cancelled this traditional feast for fear of riots.
”We will protest against the policy of discrimination pursued by the authorities of Kaunas region. They completely ignore the interests of my Polish parishioners. I do not exclude the possibility that perhaps we will have to turn to the EU institutions on discrimination against minorities. Poles are routed out to the ghetto here”, said Oskaras Volskis to the ”Kurier”. He has exercised his priestly ministry for two years now and says that he has got to know his parishioners’ problems really well. Parish priest thinks that the Left, in power in the region, neglects the interests of the Polish population in Wędziagoła. The protest is to take place regardless of the cancelled holiday.
On Saturday Wędziagoła was to celebrate its traditional feast. This year marks the 628th year anniversary of the first written mention of the place. It was planned to carry out street basketball tournament, honour the owners of the most beautiful farm, organize an asphalt drawings contest, greet families which have had offspring this year and honour the oldest inhabitant.
However, according to the Poles, the holiday was actually to become the pre-election promotion of the center-left parties ruling the region. That is why the parish priest, Rev. Oskaras Volskis and sacristan Ryszard Jankowski decided to organize a protest against the discrimination of local Poles this day. The frightened authorities cancelled the holiday.
“We are concerned about the security of the citizens, incidents are likely to occur. Various rumors are circulating, we do not know what to expect, “- the local government officer Vytautas Šniauk explained to “Kauno dienes” the reasons for cancellation.
According to the “Kauno diena” there were rumours that Poles from the Vilnius region would come to the Wędziagolskie county by bus in order to join the protest.
Asked directly, the parish priest denies having had such plans, ” But it is a great idea. It would be quite understandable if Poles from Wędziagoły were supported by their compatriots from other regions.”
Sacristan Ryszard Jankowski, who is the chairman of the local ZPL circle, is a candidate for Member of the Seimas on behalf of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania. He stands as a candidate from the party list as well as in the single-member constituency Šilainiai.
80 PER CENT HERE WERE POLISH
The place today is home to about 1 800 people, including the 300-400 Polish people who have lived here through generations. Before war they accounted for more than 80 per cent of the inhabitants. However, the repatriation to Poland and the policy of assimilation, also conducted by Soviet authorities of Lithuania, led to a drastic reduction of the Polish population in Wędziagoła.
Tłumaczenie Milena Jajkowska w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Milena Jajkowska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.