- September 21, 2012
Lithuanian priest stands in defence of Poles
In Vandžiogala, a town in Kaunas district municipality, parishioners and their parish priest, Oskaras PetrasVolskis, are organising a demonstration against the discrimination of local Poles. The local authorities are afraid of possible riots and consequently, cancelled the celebration of the 628th anniversary of the town which would take place next Saturday.
“We worry about the safety of our citizens, about possible incidents. There are certain rumours, we don’t know what we can expect.” Vytautas Šniauka, Vandžiogala staroste, said for the “Kauno diena” newspaper. The members of the local government are afraid that Poles form the Vilnius Region might take part in the demonstration. The organisers of the demonstration deny these accusations.
“We are going to organise such a demonstration. I’m a parish priest of this town since two years. I know this town and its problems. I’ve noticed that the local authorities are discriminating against local Poles. They are ignored by the local authorities.” said Rev. Oskras Volskis, a parish priest of Vandžiogala.
The Reverend noticed the national problems of the town at the beginning of his pastoral work in Vandžiogala. “When I met my community for the first time, a teacher started to yell at Poles. It happens all the time. If Poles want to organise a celebration, they are ignored. There was a celebration dedicated to Czesław Miłosz. Unfortunately, no one came. The mayor ordered the staroste but he was not very eager.” said the priest. It was one of a few such incidents.
During the interview with PL DELFI, the parish priest stressed that he was Lithuanian. However, in his opinion, such treatment of Polish citizens in the 21st century is unbelievable. “I’m Lithuanian. I have been studying in Krakow only for some time. I learnt Polish language as an adult. I’ve noticed that Poles are treated unfairly. They are neglected.” stressed the priest.
Despite the fact that the town authorities have cancelled the tomorrow celebration, the demonstration is going to take place. “The authorities have organised the celebration, they organise it every year, but they don’t invite Poles. It was the last straw. At four o’clock we are going to peacefully draw attention to our problems. I say this as Lithuanian – it can’t be tolerated.” claimed Rev. Volskis. The Reverend does not know how many people will participate in the demonstration exactly because they are under pressure.
Vandžiogala is a small town in Kaunas district municipality. Currently it has ca. 1800 residents. 200-300 Polish people live there. Today ca. 20% of the residents claim to be Polish, 75% are Lithuanian, and 5% are Russian. In 1919, the town together with the nearby town of Babtai did not accept the Council of Lithuania [Polish: Taryba] and in return the Lithuanian army pacified Liaudė. Since the World War II any Polish educational institution has not worked there.
Tłumaczenie Karolina Rolka w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Karolina Rolka within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.