- January 24, 2014
Parents from the Vilnius district condemn President Grybauskaitė’s lies
The Forum of Parents of Polish Schools in Vilnius District has issued a declaration in which they lend support to MEP Valdemar Tomaševski, who stood up for minority rights in front of the European Parliament, and expressed his support for the Forum of Parents of Polish Schools in Šalčininkai District.
“We declare that we cannot possibly stay indifferent to the alarming events concerning national minorities in Lithuania, which have lately occurred there. We fully endorse MEP Valdemar Tomaševski’s stance. On the forum of the European Parliament a week ago, he stood up for national minorities repressed in Lithuania. We also express our solidarity with members of the Forum of Parents of Polish Schools in Šalčininkai District, who have recently deplored the aggravating situation of national minorities in Lithuania” – we read in the Forum’s statement.
The parents reminded that a week ago, in his speech delivered during the session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Tomaševski positively assessed the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the EU. At the same time, however, he expressed his deep concern over the case of Boleslaw Daszkiewicz, the Director of Šalčininkai Local Administration. During the last days of the Lithuanian Presidency, the court imposed a draconian penalty on Boleslaw Daszkiewicz for the use of bilingual signboards with street names.
“We are glad to notify that during the session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg last week, Valdemar Tomaševski (MEP) described the Lithuanian Presidency as successful. However, he also expressed his deep concern over the fact that the Lithuanian Presidency had been overshadowed by the Vilnius District Court’s decision to impose a draconian penalty on Boleslaw Daszkiewicz, the Director of Šalčininkai Local Administration, for the use of bilingual signboards with street names. “Unfortunately, the latest outrageous acts inflicted on the national minorities in Lithuania have left a sour taste, and become a proverbial fly in the ointment of the Lithuanian Presidency” – said Valdemar Tomaševski during the EP’s debate on 14th January. “We consider as regrettable and condemn the fact that during the same session, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė not only verbally attacked Tomaševski who stood up for minority rights, but also lied to the international public, claiming that none of the reports of the international organizations had mentioned anything concerning violating minority rights in Lithuania” – The Forum of Parents of Polish Schools in Vilnius District expressed their opinion of the latest events connected with national minorities in Lithuania.
In their announcement, the parents explain which statements by President Dalia Grybauskaitė are, according to them, departures from the truth. “We would like to remind those who already know, of the international reports pointing to the aggravating situation of the national minorities in Lithuania, and to enlighten others on the subject. The reports mentioning the issue under discussion have been produced by: the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers, the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance, the European Network Against Racism, Freedom House – U.S. nongovernmental organization, Knut Vollebaek – the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s High Commissioner on National Minorities, the Human Rights Monitoring Institute. It is lamentable that the President of our country chooses disinformation, and offends the champions of minority rights” – we read in the Forum’s statement.
The Forum’s members explain why, according to them, representatives of the Lithuanian government misinterpret the laws on national minorities (chiefly the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities). “It is common knowledge that the rights of national minorities are regulated by a wide range of international acts, including the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, which guarantees that national minorities have the right to use their mother tongue freely, both in private and in public, verbally and in writing. It is unacceptable that Lithuanian notables claim that the Convention is a sort of policy paper. Experts on international law emphasize that, in fact, the countries which have ratified it, are at liberty to assess the Convention. However, this freedom concerns only defining the limits of norms guaranteeing observing the rights specified in the Convention. It does not regard challenging nor accepting these rights. The assessment, left at the discretion of the countries, does not change the fact that they cannot, and – more importantly – do not have the right to question the rights and liberties guaranteed by the Convention: those are the basis which should be ensured without reservation. What lawyers also emphasize is the fact that if minorities express the wish to keep and protect their national identity, a country should help them and provide them with proper conditions, within its own political structure” – the Forum refers to the conclusions reached by experts on international law.
The parents condemn financial repression imposed for the use of the mother tongue, they also express hope that the Lithuanian government would cease to aggravate the position of national minorities. “We have issued this statement in order to express our concern about the negative tendencies observed in Lithuania, and in fear of them having any influence on our children, who are the future. We care for their welfare. We want to raise them according to our culture and tradition. Also, we want to avoid a situation in which somebody else makes decisions for us, and enforces solutions unacceptable for us and for our children. We condemn the financial repression for the use of one’s mother tongue, we are sure that such excesses are unacceptable in Europe, where human rights have a real value. We hope our government will stop worsening the situation of national minorities in Lithuania, and, at the same time, discrediting the international image of our country” – we read in the statement signed by the chairman of the Forum of Parents of Polish Schools in Vilnius District, Jaroslavas Tamasunas.
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.