• March 13, 2014
  • 232

In Jaszuny Polish signs were broke off

© Marian Paluszkiewicz

In Jaszuny (Soleczniki region) on the night from 11th to 12th March unknown perpetrators had broke off sings with Polish street names. Owners of the buildings suspect that in this way Lithuanian nationalists commemorated Day of Restoration of Independence which is celebrated on 11th of March. They also say that broken off signs will be replaced with new ones.

‘Now I will order a bigger sign, maybe even a big banner which I will place on the roof so that it is not so easy next time,’ says Jarosław Pieszko, owner of a shop on Lidzka street in Jaszuny from which a Polish street sign was removed, in an interview for ‘Kurier’.

A few years ago, on the Day of Polish Community and Poles Abroad (May 2nd) Jarosław Pieszko put a Polish flag on his shop. Police wanted to punish him with a penalty for that.

‘It was shocking for me. I’ve decided to put a street name sign on a shop in Polish and Lithuanian. It was one of the first bilingual signs in Jaszuny. Later on, other citizens started to put bilingual signs on their properties and it didn’t bother anybody,’ says our interlocutor. He also points out that today there are significantly less signs because people are frightened by Lithuanian media and politicians.

‘Especially old people are afraid of repressions and they take the signs off,’ says Jarosław Pieszko. He also points out that a campaign against citizens of Jaszuny continues for several months in Lithuanian media which show them as anti-Lithuanian.

‘On March 11th we also had an invasion of journalists. They were riding around the city, taking pictures of Polish signs,’ says our interlocutor, adding ‘It is sad that we live in a country where people are oppressed just for using their mother tongue.’

It is not the first time when citizens of Jaszuny and all Soleczniki region (mostly Poles) are being attacked by media and politicians because of their nationality.

‘It turns out that in Lithuania there is a reserve which has its administration centre in Soleczniki. Let us call it a reserve of Lithuanian Poles. In this reserve applies the law of EU and the local community. However, law of the Lithuanian country, on the territory of which the reserve is, does not apply. Article number 10 from the Constitution does not apply here. It states that ‘the territory of Lithuania is unified and indivisible into state creations, so there are efforts to make a part of Lithuania territory autonomous,’ wrote one of the leaders of Social Democratic Union, former MEP Aloyzas Sakalas.

‘I can’t guess who is the perpetrator of this vandalism, but it is not the first time when Polish signs were broke off from our citizen’s houses,’ points out the governor of Jaszuny Zofia Griazny. She reminds that several years ago in Soleczniki region there was an outrageous reality show ‘I love Lithuania’ (‘Kocham Litwę’) which members were breaking off Polish signs from private estates in Ejszyszki (Soleczniki region).

‘Polish signs disappeared also from several houses in our city, on Targowa street,’ reminds the governor. She says that this time three signs were broken off – two from shops on Lidzka street and one from an apartment house on Balińskiego street.

Citizens and building owners were so used to bilingual signs that they did not notice their absence at first sight.

Jarosław Pieszko noticed absence of the sign on March 13th. He immediately called Jerzy Borkowski, owner of the butcher’s and a shop at the end of the street. Only then Borkowski noticed that the Polish sign is missing.

‘Someone must have put effort in that, because signs are located at the height of around 3 meters, so without a ladder or a car to stand on it would be impossible to break them off,’ explains Jerzy Borkowski. As he says, only the Polish sign was broken off. The Lithuanian one remained. Meanwhile, from Jarosław Pieszka’s shop Lithuanian name was also removed, because it was on the same sign as the Polish one.

‘Certainly it was a planned action, because the perpetrator had to have a ladder and a screwdriver. He was prepared,’ emphasizes Pieszko.

According to Borkowski, real perpetrators of the vandalism are Lithuanian politicians who incite the society.

‘They did not do it themselves, but certainly they had no problems with engaging perpetrators,’ says Borkowski.

Shop owners at first thought that authorities of the region, incited by Lithuanian media and politicians, have decided to remove Polish signs from private estates.

‘We certainly did not do it and we will not,’ denies the governor of Griazny. She also adds that she noticed the absence of signs on March 12th, but she thought that the shop owners themselves have removed them.

‘We would never do it,’ they agree. They do not know yet if they will report the whole situation to the police.

‘It is a waste of time because they will not determine anything anyway,’ says Borkowski.

‘Surely they won’t find perpetrators, but we can’t just leave it like this, because it will only encourage them to do more such things,’ says Pieszko, claiming that at least for the formalities he will report property damage to the police.

Source: http://kurierwilenski.lt/2014/03/13/w-jaszunach-pozrywano-polskie-tabliczki/

Tłumaczenie by Anna Leśkiewicz w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Anna Leśkiewicz within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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