- March 31, 2022
Polish schools from the Trakai District Municipality will fight till the end
On Wednesday, March 30, near the building of the Government of Lithuania the Poles of the Vilnius region protested against “the nationalistic politics of the liberal and conservative party, in defense of the Polish high school in Paluknys and polish elementary school in Senieji Trakai.”
The picketers held signs that said: “We will not allow for the destruction of polish schools”; “We fight for justice in education”; “To denationalization of our children – We say no”; “Hands off the polish education!!!” and others.
-I cannot believe what is happening. We live in a free, democratic country, and someone just comes in and closes our schools. It is unthinkable. We will fight till the end. If we give up now, it will mean an end to the Poles. – says outraged Zofia from Trakai.
“It is a giant provocation against us, against a democratic country. Speaking of democracy, I want to say that if the government of the Trakai District Municipality approves this decision, it will not be right from the point of view of democratic law. Because in Senieji Trakai and Paluknys the people do not support this government. It could be said that it is some occupying authority that makes the decisions against the democracy, and it would be partially right.”
-said during the rally Lithuanian MEP Waldemar Tomaszewski, chairman of the Association of Poles in Lithuania, president of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance.
The rally was organized by the main board of the Association of Poles in Lithuania in defense of Polish education in Lithuania, including the schools in the Trakai District Municipality – Longin Komołowski High School in Paluknys and the A. Stelmachowski Elementary School in Senieji Trakai.
“If this hostile to us decision gets approved, we will respond adequately. We will not give our consent—now and ever again. The Paluknys people want to join the Šalčininkai District Municipality, and surely the petitions will start. The same way that the people from Pabradė wanted to join the Vilnius District Municipality decades ago. Even then they understood that this liberal-nationalistic government was going to harass them.”
-remarked Waldemar Tomaszewski
The protest and appeals of the polish community in Paluknys and Senieji Trakai region grow in intensity. The actions of the Trakai District Municipality aim at destroying the polish schools in this region.
“We, the parents, and the community categorically do not agree on being a branch of other schools, not because we want it or not, but because the exemptions on smaller classes for the national minority schools are granted by the Lithuanian government. Strange and incomprehensible things are happening in the government of the liberals and conservatives. The government passes a resolution with the exemptions for the national minority schools. The local government is supposed to implement it, but we see that in our case, they are allowed to not grant those exemptions.” – said Agnieszka Rynkiewicz, on behalf of the parents and communities of Andrzej Stelmachowski Elementary School in Senieji Trakai.
The resolution of the rally highlighted all the problems with Polish education in Lithuania: the network of schools, the Lithuanian language exam, the Polish language exam, and the funding of the national minority schools.
Trakai District Municipality is planning to reorganize two polish speaking schools in the district, the Longin Komołowski High School in Paluknys and the Andrzej Stelmachowski Elementary School in Senieji Trakai, as part of the “Schools of the Millennium” project. Those facilities are to be transformed into branches of other schools, which means relegation to a lower position. The communities of both schools are actively opposing that.
Translated by Maciej Nowocień within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.