- April 29, 2013
Again, anti-Polish rally in Vilnius
On Sunday, April 28, in Vilnius organized another anti-Polish rally. Although the organizers of the rally tried to emphasize that the action “in defense of our land, language and state” is not directed against the Polish minority, their demands, in which they require to ban on using Polish names, and to name streets and places in no other language, but Lithuanian, left no delusions as to its nature.
The protest was conducted by representatives of most of the nationalist right-wing and national organizations, however, according to police and Lithuanian media, it was attended by about 500 people. The organizers themselves have stated that their action has attracted more than two thousand people.
Among the speakers at the rally by the parliament there were the same people who last month attended a similar rally near the government’s office. There were also similar claims and demands – not to allow the implementation of spelling of Polish names and double names of streets and places in Vilnius. In this regard, the protesters took on another resolution addressed to the president, prime minister and speaker of parliament.
‘First of all, the proposed Law on National Minorities is prepared only to one minority – the Poles – manipulated by the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania. Second, the fact that it has been adjusted does not mean that is good, as it is not intended to protect minorities, but promote their exclusion and isolation ‘ — so it was said at the rally.
– Imagine that we base not on Lithuanian public signs, receive services in the non-state language, and that we are about to sit an exam with a handicap. Therefore, we will not feel as citizens of Lithuania, and we will detach themselves from the life of the state — said Ivančenko Viktorija, a student of the department of history and cultural anthropology at the University of Vilnius.
Among the participants of the rally there were also those who argued that consent to Polish signs in public space threatens not only the Lithuanian language, but even the Lithuanian national identity.
The organizers of the rally argued that Polish demands are contrary to the law and the Constitution of Lithuania, and they warned the authorities that the fulfillment of these demands leads to the autonomy of Vilnius.
– Our main requirement to the current ruling coalition is that it stop violating the Lithuanian legislation and comply with the Constitution. The most crucial is that Lithuanian still has the status of state language. then, our foreign policy would be appropriate and would be consistent with the interests of Lithuania — said Paulius Stonis, a representative of one of the organizers of the rally, the association ‘Pro Patria’.
The rally organizers had expected that the event would be attended by about three thousand people. At least, this was the number specified in the application for a permit sent to the government of Vilnius.
Nonetheless, on Sunday afternoon in the square before the Parliament met fewer people. The rally was attended not only by the residents of Vilnius, but also by newcomers from Kaunas and Klaipeda. Their banners were dominated by slogans against the activists of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania, against the Polish minority demands and the alleged ‘polonization’ of Vilnius. But there were also posters demanding ‘returning the Sejneńska land.’
A small group of participants in the rally were also supporters of Ms Neringa Venckienė, the sister of the so-called ‘father-avenger’ of Kaunas, which after death of his brother continues his fight against the alleged pedophile clan. The MP herself was absent at the rally, as sie is probably hiding somewhere abroad since she lost her parliamentary immunitee.
The yesterday’s demands of the protesters clearly do not appeal to the current leadership team, as on Monday, April 29, Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius confirmed his earlier announcements that in the near future the government will send a draft of the Law on National Minorities to the parliament, and a draft of the Law on the spelling of names, which meet the expectations of the Polish minority.
Tłumaczenie by Emil Iracki w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Emil Iracki within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.