Five hundred and ninety-five Lithuanian citizens today published their public letter to the president, the parliament and the government of Lithuania, and to the Vilnius City Council. The letter condemns the ‘march of the extreme right and the spread of hatred in public’. The document appears on the Demos website in English (an earlier Lithuanian version appeared on Peticijos.lt here).
The publication of the public protest is regarded as a great credit to Lithuania, not least because of its pinpointing of the lack of proper response from authorities as a major concern.
“It is obvious that the lack of response in the situation where the extreme right and neo-Nazis are becoming ever more vociferous and threatening creates doubts in the minds of many wondering whether the silence from governmental institutions and society means also their tacit support for the views purveyed by the extreme right which attempts to hijack the concept of patriotism and thus demean Lithuania’s statehood and democracy that this National Day stands for.
The fact that public institutions remain silent in the face of the surge of neo-Nazism who are openly showing their contempt for the constitutional foundations of the state and expressing as their aim to take down the democratic government; one of the banners carried by the neo-Nazis proclaimed “Today – street, tomorrow – Seimas […]”
“In order to resist such growing manifestations of racism and xenophobia it is imperative for public institutions and the highest officials of our democratic state to clearly distance themselves from this march and condemn it in the most public and official way, thus clearly and unequivocally expressing their position on these public expressions of hatred and calls for anti-democratic causes.
“Thereby we urge the President, the Parliament and the Government of the Republic of Lithuania to take action today – to condemn and distance themselves from the march of the extreme right and neo-Nazis which took place on 11 March, 2011 […]”
The signatories are representative of wide and diverse segments of contemporary Lithuanian society. Some observers reported however, that on first reading there seemed to be a dearth of those professionally and academically involved in Judaic Studies, state-sponsored ‘Jewish projects’ and various institutions, programs and trades directly related to the Lithuanian Jewish heritage.
This year’s neo-Nazi march (eyewitness report here), had the largest number of marchers to date, estimated by some at around 1,000. Participants included a member of parliament and one of the organizers is a ‘chief specialist’ at the state-sponsored Genocide Research Center.
The Jewish Community of Lithuania also issued its protest today.