• January 24, 2014
  • 284

The MPs addressed A. Thors, M. Schulz, and J.M. Barroso

© L24.lt

Members of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania: Rita Tamašunienė, Wanda Krawczonok, Zbigniew Jedziński, Michał Mackiewicz, Jarosław Narkiewicz, Leonard Talmont, Irina Rozowa, and Józef Kwiatkowski, appealed to Astrid Thors, the High Commissioner of National Minorities of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, European Parliament President Martin Schulz, and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, to take action in defence of minority rights in Lithuania.

The parliamentarians’ letter is a reaction to the recent situation of national minorities in Lithuania.

 “We believe that it is unacceptable to violate basic human rights, including minority rights, in 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” – the MPs write in their letter to high-ranking officials of the European Union.

The members of the EAPL faction reminded about the Vilnius District Court’s decision to impose a draconian penalty of 13 000 euro on Šalčininkai District Municipality Administrative Director, Bolesław Daszkiewicz. The motivation behind the fine, imposed on 23rd December 2013, was Bolesław Daszkiewicz’s noncompliance with the obligation to remove bilingual signboards with street names from some of the private buildings in the Šalčininkai district within a month.

 “It seems that the court decision is of purely political nature, and this fact casts a shadow over the system of justice in our country. In a civilized country, it is hard to imagine a higher court to double someone’s fine. What is left for us is to lament over the fact that fines are imposed on national minorities’ members for using their mother tongue there, where the indigenous Polish minority constitutes 80 percent of the population. And all of this happens in the European Union’s member. We witness victimizing and breaking one of the most basic human rights, that is the right to use one’s mother tongue. The court’s provocative ruling has triggered a wave of discontent and protests, which are going to escalate” – claim the authors of the letter.

Recalling the events that took place in the European Parliament on 14th January this year, when half a year of the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the EU was discussed and summed up, the MPs state that President Dalia Grybauskaitė “publicly lied to the international community and to the representatives of the European Parliament, claiming in her speech that the international organizations’ reports had not found any incorrectness in the Lithuanian treatment of the minority rights”.

 “Mrs. President’s words not only surprised, but also shocked us, as they depart from the truth, and are clearly inconsistent with the real situation of national minorities in Lithuania” – stated the MPs, enlisting the reports referring to the violation of minority rights in Lithuania.

These are: the Report by the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance, in which the European Commission voices its concern over the liquidation of the practice of protecting national minorities, which existed between 1989 and 2010. The Report emphasizes that it is possible to solve the majority of national minorities’ problems on the basis of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities of the Council of Europe. It also recommends that the Lithuanian government should pass a law on national minorities, regulating their rights in detail; 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; the Report by the European Network Against Racism mentioning the aggravating situation of the Polish minority in Lithuania; the Human Rights Monitoring Institute in Vilnius (HRMI) in its Alternative Report 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”; the Report by Freedom House, criticizing the new Lithuanian Act on Education; the Report of Knut Vollebaek, the 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.

According to the MPs, the reports at hand are a clear proof of the national minorities’ aggravating situation in Lithuania.

“The abovementioned reports suggest that President is not fully aware of the problems connected with the national minorities’ protection in Lithuania. What is especially interesting is the fact that President does not distinguish between national minorities and migrants” – we read in the letter.

According to the deputies, “instead of lying to the international public, which equals ridiculing and discrediting Lithuania on the international forum, and pretending unawareness of the existence of the reports produced by such authoritative international institutions, the highest authorities in the country should speak the truth”. This refers to President Dalia Grybauskaitė’s speech in the European Parliament on 14th January.

“Drawing your attention to the patent discrimination against national minorities, and the violation of human rights in Lithuania, we request that you take instant measures in order to protect the rights of minorities in our multinational and multicultural country” – wrote the MPs, ending their letter to the highest European officials.

Source: http://l24.lt/pl/polityka/item/25897-poslowie-na-sejm-zwrocili-sie-do-k-vollebaeka-m-schulza-i-j-m-barroso

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.

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