- January 15, 2014
Mrs President lies
On 14th January, an event of great importance for us, the representatives of national minorities in Lithuania, took place in the European Parliament. Our representative, Member of the European Parliament Valdemar Tomaševski, spoke up for our rights. We are glad that in this manner our problems have been elucidated on the international forum.
We are especially grateful for reminding Mrs President of the Republic of Lithuania, as well as all those gathered, that it is unacceptable to violate basic human rights, including minority rights, in Our Shared Europe. It is unpardonable and intolerable for a country which is a member of the EU and NATO, to prosecute and punish people for using their mother tongue in public. What will be the next step of the Lithuanian government: a prohibition on using our language in our own houses and, after that, maybe a prohibition on thinking in Polish?
We, parents of the pupils studying at Polish schools in Lithuania, support the actions of Valdemar Tomaševski and other parliamentarians, who have flatly opposed violating the rights of minorities in Lithuania. Apart from offending an MEP, President Dalia Grybauskaitė lied to the public and to the representatives of the European Parliament, claiming in her speech that the reports of international organizations had not found any incorrectness in the Lithuanian treatment of minority rights. Well, the President is lying, as evidenced by the following reports:
1. The Resolution by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe from 2012, concerning Lithuania’s compliance with the decisions of the Framework Convention connected with national minorities’ language rights, the lack of laws regulating the protection of minority rights in the country, strengthening the system of consulting national minorities’ representatives in cases regarding them. Resolution CM / ResCMN (2012)19 on the implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities by Lithuania:https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?id=2009951&Site=CM&BackColorInternet=C3C3C3&BackColorIntranet=EDB021&BackColorLogged=F5D383;
2. The Report by the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/ecri/Country-by-country/Lithuania/LTU-CbC-IV-2011-038-ENG.pdf;
3. The Report by the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) mentions the aggravating situation of the Polish minority in Lithuania;
4. In February 2011, the Human Rights Monitoring Institute in Vilnius (HRMI) in its Alternative Report based on Lithuania’s Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) emphasized that “Lithuania is characterized by a low level of human rights awareness among decision-makers, public servants, judiciary, media and population, in general. The state has yet to develop an efficient institutional and legal framework for the protection of human rights in Lithuania.”
6. The Report by Freedom House, criticizing the new Lithuanian Act on Education, adopted in March 2011, which forced the students who took their final high school exams (matura exams) in 2013 to pass the same Lithuanian language tests as their fellow students from Lithuanian schools: (http://www.freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2012/lithuania);
7. The Report of Knut Vollebaek, High Commissioner on National Minorities of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, from May 2012, on the situation of national minorities in Lithuania.
We think that lying to the international public equals ridiculing and discrediting Lithuania on the international forum, by the highest authorities in the country. The reports agree on the subject of worsening situation of national minorities in Lithuania. We cannot condone a depletion in our rights. What matters is, most importantly, the welfare and better future for our children. We want to raise them according to our culture and tradition, as – together with the mother tongue – they are the most basic value of the nation. We support the MEP’s actions and sympathize with him defending the minority rights in Lithuania.
Chairwoman of the Forum of Parents
of Polish Schools in the Šalčininkai District
Tłumaczenie by Agata Weronika Chrobak w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Agata Weronika Chrobak within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.