OPINION | HUMAN RIGHTS | CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES | OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT | OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT | INTERNATIONAL PETITION | USCPAHA | CPJCE | ADMAS KODESH
VILNIUS—In a shock both to human rights activists here and the small but vibrant Jewish community, the “Open House Vilnius” project of the NGO “Architektūros fondas”, in partnership with M. K. Čiurlionis House and Museum is organizing a major event this coming weekend to feature an “audio-visual installation by the composer Vytautas Paukštelis”. The event is being sponsored by European Union taxpayer euros via the EU’s “Creative Europe and European Music Paths” program.
The problem? It is being staged right smack in the middle of the Old Vilna Jewish at Piramónt (in today’s Šnipiškės district, Shnípeshok in Yiddish). In fact, the staging could not be some kind of clerical error resulting from lack of being informed. For years now, there has been an international (and local!) movement beseeching the Lithuanian government and its state-owned Turto bankas, and the City of Vilnius, to move the convention center project away from the old Jewish cemetery, so that it might be lovingly restored, as, for example, per the Frankfurt model, and become an international site that will attract people from around the world, instead of a mark of racism and antisemitism in the city that was once the “Jerusalem of Lithuania” and even today uses that phrase for marketing and PR.