Andrius Navickas wins ‘Person of Tolerance’ Award in Lithuania



Journalist, editor and human rights champion Andrius Navickas was awarded this year’s Person of Tolerance award in a ceremony in Kaunas today. The annual award, founded by Open Society Lithuania’s founding director Dr Irena Veisaitė, goes to a personality who actively and courageously fought for tolerance in Lithuanian society.

Andrius Navickas (left), editor of Bernardinai, accepts the Person of Tolerance award from MEP Professor Leonidas Donskis at a ceremony in Kaunas on 5 February 2011. Image: N. Povilaitis / Lrytas.lt

This journal has been proud to consistently highlight Mr Navickas’s unique achievements as a true champion of human rights in Lithuania, in sharp contrast to many government (and indeed OSCE and other international-body) officials who pay lip service to human rights ‘in general’ while failing to stand up — which in Lithuania means standing up and taking the heat — for the actual human rights concerns of the day.

The jury for the Person of Tolerance Award, administered by Sugihara House and the Sugihara Foundation in Kaunas, has this year selected a winner who has profoundly earned the distinction with many years of consistent and sometimes bitter struggle for the causes of tolerance and human equality.

As editor of the daily internet newspaper Bernardinai.lt, which some consider today to be the only truly free platform left for the opponents of bigotry and state-sponsored history-distortion,  Mr Navickas has consistently published authors who speak out without spin about racism, antisemitism, homophobia and xenophobia. Our own Opinon page features authorized translations of a number of essays that first appeared in Lithuanian on Bernardinai.lt, by such authors as Leonidas Donskis and Sergejus Kanovičius.

Last November, Mr Navickas also published Daiva Repečkaitė’s  interview with Dr Efraim Zuroff (English here), leading to greater understanding of a personality who has been the ‘devil incarnate’ target for vicious antisemitic (and anti open-debate) attack in Lithuania for decades (for his ‘sin’ of asking for justice for Holocaust victims in the form of suspected mass murderers having a fair trial in a court in their own country). The interview had been turned down by others, including the large magazine where it was meant to appear.

When the mass circulation daily Respublika again, in early 2009, put on its front page the huge and sickening cartoon of The Jew and The Gay holding up the globe, under the headline ‘Who runs the world?’ it was one Andrius Navickas who went to the press commission and led the campaign in society against the antisemitic-homophobic campaign, while the various government and OSCE officials responsible for such issues went into deep hiding.

Mr Navickas uttered the memorable words in protest: ‘Today I am a Jew and a Gay!’ Not only was Mr Navickas himself threatened with a malicious lawsuit, but his own image was then hideously inserted into both The Jew and The Gay, in retaliation for his speaking out, on the front page of a sister mass circulation trash newspaper, Vakaro žinios. Many other voices in Lithuania were silenced. Not Mr Navickas’s.

A number of articles by Andrius Navickas appear on this journal’s Bold Citizens page.

DefendingHistory.com congratulates the Sugihara Foundation on its outstanding choice.

More details and images are available at Lrytas.lt.

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