• May 29, 2017
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Snarski: My petition is not meant to be against Lithuania

Current situation where Poles are being discriminated in Lithuania counts against it, it is wasting multicultural potential of such a great country – Lithuania. Let’s imagine how much it could gain, following European values and opening itself to minorities. Lithuanian society should realize this – says Dr Tomasz Snarski, Lawyer from Gdańsk, author of Petition filed to EP considering Poles in Lithuania.

‘I always highlight that my petition is not meant to be against Lithuania, but it is in favor of my countrymen, to protect rights of Polish minority in Lithuania, in favor of EU citizens and each and every European citizen has right to file such petition in the common interest’ – says Snarski.

‘By filing the petition I was hoping to separate this conflict from historical, national context and depict it as an universal problem concerning whole Europe. Poles need basic language rights in Lithuania not because they are Poles, but because they are simply human, EU citizens. It is right for identity, self-definition and identity is part of human dignity – also in Lithuania – it does not need any special explanation’ – says lawyer.

‘If Lithuania’s aim is being European, all of these values listed in treaty, cooperation and solidarity, there is no any other way than trying to solve this problem with cooperation, because the only other way is confrontation’ – says Tomasz Snarski.

During six years since the petition has been filed, 20 tomes of case files have been collected. As he says, there is no month when petition would not bring interest.

‘Thousands of people wrote to EP, supported petition by sending e-mails or letters – human rights circles, NGO from Poland, Lithuania, citizens’ movement has been formed and it all should be appreciated’ – says lawyer.

Commenting fact that Poles in Lithuania are rather passive in fighting for original spelling of name and surname, Snarski explains:

‘I do not expect anyone to sacrifice their free time, professional life or money. I do not comment on what somebody does wrong or right or if Polish of Lithuanian government could do more. The fact that Poles do exist in Lithuania, that their polish sounds great, at the same time they are being so opened, having big historical knowledge, following polish culture – it is a huge success. Respect to people in my age and younger still wanting to be Poles. How could I tell anyone now – you additionally need to conduct a case in court’

Translated by Agnieszka Piontek within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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