- September 24, 2012
Demonstration in Vandžiogala against the discrimination and social democrats
Last Saturday (22nd September) Poles form Vandžiogala, Kaunas district, demonstrated against the discriminatory policy of the local authorities. One of the organisers of the demonstration was a parish priest, Oskaras Volskis. According to the demonstrators, the local authorities ignore the needs of parishioners, especially Poles. The staroste of Vandžiogala, Vytautas Šniauka, denies all accusations. Because of the Polish demonstration, the authorities cancelled the celebration of the 628th anniversary of the town.
20 people participated in the Saturday demonstration. The organisers emphasize that all participants were Polish, however, all residents of Vandžiogala had been invited. According to the demonstrating parishioners, the authorities do not do anything to help their parish. The church buildings are in a very poor condition. The local authorities ignore Polish minority and do not invite them to local celebrations.
“I’ve been a parish priest since two years and I can’t stand it any more. All those double standards for Poles.” said Rev. Volskis, one of the organisers of the demonstration. In Reverend’s opinion, Poles are ignored by the authorities and humiliated in the public sphere.
Problematic social democrats?
Rev. Volskis and Ryszard Jankowski, a parish sacristan and president of the local division of the Association of Poles in Lithuania [Polish: Związek Polaków na Litwie (ZPL)], claim that Vandžiogala’s problems have an economic background. “Vandžiogala is in a very poor condition. It doesn’t have the sewerage system. Anything. There isn’t even a toilet for tourists from Poland. They are forced to relieve themselves outside.” Ryszard Jankowski described the economic situation of the region to PL DELFI.
According to them, economic problems have a national background. “I think that the situation here is bad because of Poles. They are persecuted in this way. Because Poles live there so we don’t have to help them. In other towns where Lithuanian people live there are no such problems.” stressed Reverend.
In the sacristan’s opinion, only local Poles, who are indigenous people here, are concerned with these issues. “Rev. Volskis has noticed that Poles are not to blame for the current situation but Lithuanian people who don’t help. We don’t receive any support, they only organise propaganda celebrations.” added Jankowski.
Moreover, Rev. Volskis said that the social democrats are responsible for the discrimination of Poles. When the social democrats organise some kind of celebration, they can freely use the local community centre. In the case of Poles, they have to firstly prepare a proper document.
Reverend is convinced that the social democrats, that govern Kaunas region, are guilty of the problem. “Vandžiogala as well as the whole district is controlled by the social democrats. They are responsible for the discrimination. If there is no other party, then problem is inside the governing party.” said Reverend.
Despite the small number of the demonstrators, the organisers are convinced that the action was necessary. “It doesn’t matter how many people were present. It’s important that people will gain some confidence. We did it for ourselves. I do it for the personal sense of justice. We can’t tolerate the fact that someone is persecuted and discriminated only because they are Poles. I’ve never heard about any persecuted Lithuanian person in England or the USA. And such a situation is taking place here.” stressed Reverend.
According to Jankowski, the residents have asked the authorities for help many times,however no one has answered them. “We thought that it was a very good opportunity. No one talks with us. And suddenly they were coming here on their own so we thought that we had to do something.” explained Jankowski. The president of the ZPL division informed PL DELFI about the anti-Polish campaign in schools. “For who is this celebration? For people who are fond of drinking and for children. The campaign informs people that Poles are guilty of the cancellation of the celebration.” added Jankowski.
The staroste of Vandžiogala, Vytautas Šniauka, does not understand in what way Poles are discriminated. “There is nothing to comment on. Because I don’t understand how local Poles are discriminated or ignored. We have never refuse them anything. No one has said anything bad about them. I think it is a pre-election disease.” the staroste commented on the Saturday event for PL DELFI.
The staroste denies accusations concerning the fact that Polish community was not invited to participate in the celebration. “The respected parish priest as well as the president of the local division of the ZPL received the invitations. How could we invite the rest? Personally? The information was publicly available. All citizens of Lithuania are equal. Everybody had a possibility to participate in the celebration.” said Šniauka. However, Jankowski and Rev. Volskis deny receiving the invitations from the authorities.
In Vytautas Šniauka’s opinion, the anniversary takes place each year and it has never caused so much trouble. “This year the celebration was planned on 8th September. However, it coincided with the harvest festival. We didn’t have enough time.” said the staroste.
The anniversary was cancelled because the authorities were afraid of the possible riots. “In the public sphere certain rumours appeared that some outside people were going to participate in our celebration. We thought “Do we need problems?” summed up Vytautas Šniauka.
Tłumaczenie Karolina Rolka w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Karolina Rolka the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.