O P I N I O N
by Monica Lowenberg
The following letter to the provost of University College London was released for publication today by Ms. Lowenberg’s office.
To the Provost
Dear Professor Grant,
Please find pasted below correspondence between myself and Dr Francois Guenest of UCL and Professor Polonsky who together have organised with the Lithuanian government this year’s Part 2 conference ‘No Simple Stories’ to be held next week 17-19 December at the Lithuanian embassy in London and UCL.
I requested that I read out a petition that hundreds of people across the world, scholars, survivors and others agree with, a petition that disagrees with Polonsky’s and the Lithuanian government’s interpretation of events and action. Polonsky as designated organiser has refused me the opportunity to read out the petition.
Serious questions have to now be raised about the conference, its agenda and UCL.
Has Polonsky’s knighthood by the Lithuanian government and the launch of his latest book at the conference prevented him operating in the spirit of democracy?
By refusing me permission to read out the petition which would take simply five minutes of conference time with my 90 year old Holocaust survivor father present, a petition which hundreds of people across the world, scholars, survivors and others agree with, a petition that disagrees with Polonsky’s and the Lithuanian government’s interpretation of events and actions, free speech can no longer be heard in an established British institution.
One can now only conclude that UCL, a major London university is now violating basic Western principles of open discussion on the orders of the PR department of a far right Baltic republic. The issue at stake here is not this or that point in Professor Antony Polonsky’s book or biography. It is that he has forbidden a petition that makes constructive requests of the Lithuanian government.