- March 21, 2017
Families fighting for original surnames: The country does not have us in mind
‘We want to pass the information to all politicians and decision-makers – Act on original names spelling is needed right now’ – said Ewelina Baliko, EFHR lawyer, during the press conference, representing mixed families that claim for original names spelling in identity documents.
‘Every sixth family in Lithuania is a mixed family, every sixth Lithuanian woman marries a foreign man, every sixth child is born abroad, so saying that the problem concerns only few families is wrong. This is the reality’ – added Baliko.
Families of Pauwels, Gorecki-Mickiewicz and Jacquet took part in the conference. It discussed ruling of The Supreme Court of Lithuania – Surnames in lithuanian transcription will be on the front passport page, while in the original version on further pages. Families do not agree on this ruling and are going to turn to European Court of Human Rights. Lithuanian citizens already have had their identity documents issued with original surname transcription.
‘Our son had original version of the surname in birth certificate and identity documents – Jacquet. Now as we are renewing the documents Migration Board expects a lithuanian transcription – Žakė. It is a totally different surname. It insults such young person and his identity. We do not feel safe in this country, which does not care about children’s rights. Attempts to change surname are against human rights’ – said mother of Joran Jacquet Jurgita Daugmaudytė.
She added, that the family does not live together – parents are divorced – and original surname is also some kind of connection with father and grandparents.
‘Of course I do not agree that name and surname of my doughter was changed – we chose that name when she was born, we were interested in its’ etymology and we decided on such transcription, already hearing back then that we can have troubles with the original spelling’ – highlighted Jovita Bugvilaitė, mother of Alexi Goreckiej-Mickiewicz.
Right now girl uses her birth certificate in Lithuania and travels with a french passport. Migration Board refuses issuing new documents, before the spelling is changed in birth certificate. Family does not agree on this. Together with EFHR they are planning to file a complaint to European Court of Human Rights.
‘I get a feeling that there is a fear of everything related to polish language, in Lithuania. Not everyone understands that many Poles live here, that we live in harmony and we should be proud of it. The matter of surnames is a political thing’ – says Jovita Bugvilaitė.
Roman Gorecki-Mickiewicz said that polish politicians in Lithuania should show bigger initiative.
‘I think this is a problem thanks to which all politicians actually exist, having a subject to talk about before elections. They should stop talking about it before elections, but personally sue the country, because lithuanian environments begin to think and are with us. Journalists are with us, artists, many Lithuanians think we are right’ – said Gorecki-Mickiewicz.
Bart Pauwels showed statements issued on behalf of people, who have such problem. It has been sent, among others, to the President, government and to media.
‘It seems that courts do not care about solving problems of typical citizens of Lithuania, because final rulings are putting us in initial situation. Such ruling might cause troubles while traveling in EU countries, when it is hard to prove that content of identity documents, birth and marriage certificates and is legal. We do not want to accuse courts, which work very professionally in Lithuania. Politicians have big responsibility, which discuss the matter already 20 years, but do not reach any agreement. Present situation is the effect of indecisiveness – the fact that people have to go to courts, which is wasting country’s funds’.
Authors of the letter remark, that Speaker of the Seimas Viktoras Pranckietis has signed a project on non lithuanian surnames to be written in their original version on the further pages of passport and the majority of Seimas does not have one consistent site on surnames spelling, so it will be hard to reach any agreements.
They appeal that decisions of the politicians are based on the truth and common sense, not based on the populism’. They underline that politicians should solve real administrative problems which are met by people, who cannot write their surnames in an original version, not made up problems related to dangers when it comes to lithuanan language.
‘Original transcription of names will not downgrade the constitutional status of the lithuanian language’ – say authors of the statement, adding, that adopting this law would improve relations with Poland.
Translated by Agnieszka Piontek within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.