- January 22, 2014
Parents from the Vilnius District Municipality condemn President Grybauskaitė for her lies
The Forum of Parents from Polish schools in Vilnius District Municipality issued a statement in which it expressed its support for the MEP Waldemar Tomaszewski, who defended the rights of minority groups in the European Parliament, and its solidarity with the members of the Forum of Parents from Polish schools in Šalčininkai District Municipality.
“We declare that we cannot stay indifferent to the recent, alarming events concerning the situation of national minority groups in Lithuania. We express our support for the MEP Waldemar Tomaszewski, who defended the rights of the oppressed Lithuanian minority groups in the European Parliament last week. We also express our solidarity with the members of the Forum of Parents from Polish schools in Šalčininkai District Municipality, who recently published an announcement in which they voiced their regret about the worsening situation of minority groups in Lithuania.” – we read in the Forum’s statement.
The parents reminded that a week ago, in his speech during a meeting of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, W. Tomaszewski evaluated Lithuanian presidency in EU positively, but at the same time he voiced his concern about the fact that at the end of the presidency a member of Polish minority – Bolesław Daszkiewicz, the administrative director of the Šalčininkai region Municipality – was fined a horrendous penalty for bilingual signs with street names.
“We are very pleased to hear that last week, during his speech in the European Parliament, the MEP Waldemar Tomaszewski evaluated Lithuanian presidency in EU positively, however, at the same time he voiced his concern about the fact that the last days of this presidency were clouded by Vilnius City District Court’s decision to impose a horrendous fine on Bolesław Daszkiewicz, the administrative director of the Šalčininkai region Municipality, for bilingual signs with street names. “Unfortunately, these recent, scandalous events in Lithuania, aimed at national minorities, left a bad impression and became the proverbial fly in the ointment of the Lithuanian presidency.” – said W. Tomaszewski on January 14, 2014 in the EP. We regret that that during the same session the Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė not only attacked W. Tomaszewski, who attempted to defend the rights of national minorities, verbally, but also lied to the international community by saying that no international organization issued a report in which it is stated that Lithuania breaks the rights of national minorities.” – the members of the Forum of Parents from Polish schools in Vilnius District Municipality present their stand on the recent events concerning national minorities in Lithuania.
In the statement, the parents explained which utterances of the President D. Grybauskaitė are untrue in their opinion.
“To those who know, we would like to remind, and to those who are not aware – we tell, that the worsening situation of national minorities in Lithuania was noticed and mentioned in documents issued by: the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, the European Network Against Racism, the U.S.-based, non-governmental organization “Freedom House”, the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Knut Vollebaek, the Human Rights Monitoring Institute. We can only regret that our country’s leader allows herself to spread disinformation and insult the defenders of the rights of national minorities in such an honorable institution.” – we read in the Forum’s statement.
The members of the Forum also explain why, in their opinion, the representatives of the Lithuanian government misinterpret the legal documents regulating the rights of national minorities, the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities in particular.
“It is not a secret that the rights of national minorities are regulated by a number of international legal acts, including the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, which gives minority groups the right to use minority languages without constraint or any interference, both publicly and privately, in speech and writing. The frequent statements of Lithuanian notable citizens about the Convention being treated as a policy paper in Lithuania are not acceptable. The experts on international law stress that there is, in fact, some freedom of its evaluation by the countries which ratified the Convention. However, this freedom lies in specifying the boundaries of the regulations introduced in accordance with the Convention and not questioning its laws. The freedom of evaluation given to the countries does not change the fact that they do not have the right to question the laws and the freedoms guaranteed by the Convention because these are basic rights that should be guaranteed to everyone unconditionally. The lawyers also emphasize that if minority groups want to preserve and protect their national identity, the country should help them and guarantee it as a part of the its own political structure.” – the Forum quotes the conclusions of experts on international law.
The parents condemned the financial repercussions imposed for using native languages but also expressed their hope that the government of Lithuania will stop worsening the national minorities’ situation.
“We issued this statement because we want to express our concern about the negative tendencies concerning national minorities observed in Lithuania and in fear that these tendencies may influence our future – our children. We care about the well-being and the future of our children. We wish to raise them according to our traditions and culture. We don’t want other people deciding for us and exerting solutions unacceptable both for us and our children. We condemn the financial repercussions imposed for using native languages and we are convinced that in a united Europe, where human rights have a real value, such excesses are not acceptable. We hope that our government will stop worsening the national minorities’ situation in Lithuania, and as a consequence, worsening the image of our country internationally.” – we read in the statement signed by the president of the Forum of Parents from Polish schools in Vilnius District Municipality, Jarosław Tomaszun.
Tłumaczenie by Kinga Zinser w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Kinga Zinser within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.