Free Speech & Democracy

‘The Baltic Times’ Does it Again


The 2 September 2010 issue of the Baltic Times carried an unsigned editorial on the Opinion page that refers to Dr Efraim Zuroff, director of the Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office, and the author of Operation Last Chance [excerpt here], as someone who ‘plays Moscow’s political games’, in line with local far-right efforts to tar with a McCarthyist brush of alleged communism those who speak out against racism, antisemitism, and Holocaust revisionism.

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Director of Yiddish Institute heading to Kazakhstan to Promote Freedom of Expression for Journalists


OR:

YIDDISH BORAT, HAVING SAVED FREEDOM OF THE PRESS IN LITHUANIA, HEADS FOR KAZAKHSTAN TO EDUCATE THE OSCE. HE ‘CLEANSED’ HIS ‘YIDDISH INSTITUTE’ OF YIDDISH FOR 11 MONTHS OF THE YEAR. . .

Sarunas Liekis, director of the Vilnius Yiddish Institute has been appointed by Lithuania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to an elite team of experts who were sent to a Review Conference in Warsaw (30 Sept — 8 Oct), in preparation for a second Review Conference in Vienna (18-26 Oct), and a third in Astana, Kazakhstan (26-28 Nov). These are all in preparation for a much larger OSCE summit scheduled for Kazakhstan that will follow on 1-2 December in Astana, that nation’s capital.

A prime theme of the OSCE summit, which marks Lithuania’s accession to the  chairmanship of OSCE, is media freedom and safety of journalists.

Details were released on 5 October by the Ministry (more here), which also put on its website this photo of the team preparing for the series of foreign trips culminating in the OSCE summit.

Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs:  ‘The True Taste of Yiddish Language and Literature  — and Litvak Culture’

This journal sincerely hopes the VYI’s director, Professor Sarunas Liekis, will report to the OSCE on the failure of Lithuanian prosecutors to abandon the lamentable investigation into his own institute’s librarian, 88 year old Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky, who has, along with other Holocaust Survivors, been the victim of an ultranationalist state-sponsored campaign of defamation. Details here. These are grave violations of human rights that were duly brought to the attention of the OSCE in December 2009.

The role of the press has been vital in these sad events.

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Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, News & Views, The OSCE, Views of Prof. Sarunas Liekis, Vilnius Yiddish Institute, Yiddish Affairs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Director of Yiddish Institute heading to Kazakhstan to Promote Freedom of Expression for Journalists

‘Jerusalem of Lithuania’ Editor Blasts Red-Brown Jailtime Law


Milan Chersonski, editor of the quadrilingual (English-Lithuanian-Russian-Yiddish) Jerusalem of Lithuania, official publication of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, has published a bold new essay, History: Education or Modern Politics.

The author opposes the Lithuanian government’s attempt to monopolize and dictate the ultranationalist version of history by effectively criminalizing the opinion that the Holocaust was the one genocide that occurred in the country in the twentieth century.

The law passed by the Lithuanian parliament and signed by the president last June, and which came into effect in July 2010, imposes jail sentences of up to two years for those who might dissent.

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Posted in Double Genocide, Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Comments Off on ‘Jerusalem of Lithuania’ Editor Blasts Red-Brown Jailtime Law

Uncanny Darkness: Impressions of a Public Debate in Vilnius



O P I N I O N

by Algirdas Davidavičius

Algirdas Davidavičius, author of the text formerly published here [an essay and memoir on the December 8th 2010 Holocaust discussion held at the Misterija cafe on Totoriu Street in Vilnius, previously announced on Facebook and elsewhere as a public event] hereby apologizes to Mr Arūnas Brazauskas for inaccurately representing his  opinion, and, under legal threat, has [on 16 December 2010] removed the text from DefendingHistory.com.

The author of the removed text also hopes to take and publish in the foreseeable future an interview with Mr Brazauskas on a number of questions mentioned in the formerly published text, and urges Mr Brazauskas to express his opinions more clearly and unequivocally.

  • Algirdas Davidavičius
  • Vilnius
  • 16 December 2010

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Posted in Algis Davidavičius, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Events, Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Opinion | Comments Off on Uncanny Darkness: Impressions of a Public Debate in Vilnius

Where is that Line?



O P I N I O N

by Leonidas Donskis

An unattributed piece that just appeared in the weekly magazine Veidas (it turned out the author does actually exist and even works at the Lithuanian Interior Ministry), intended to discuss the Nuremberg trial, and has become a new delimiter in our political life and public space. For the first time since the restoration of independence in 1990, the Holocaust has been publicly and openly denied in Lithuania (see here).

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MP Denis MacShane Calls for Release of 7 Ambassadors’ Letter on Antisemitism and the ‘Double Genocide’ movement in Lithuania


The following exchange between human rights advocate MP Denis MacShane and the government’s Minister for Europe, David Lidington, was reported today in the House of Commons:

Mr MacShane:To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will publish the letter of 25 November 2010 sent by the UK and other ambassadors in Lithuania concerning the growing manifestations of anti-Semitism in Lithuania. [29665]

Mr Lidington:It has not been the practice of successive Governments to publish letters sent by diplomats in a confidential capacity. It is important for the effective conduct of international relations for diplomacy to be able to take place on a confidential basis where necessary.

The letter referred to was reported in this journal on 25 November 2010.

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Posted in Ambassador Simon Butt, Denis MacShane, Estonia, EU, Free Speech & Democracy, Media Watch, News & Views, Politics of Memory, United Kingdom | Comments Off on MP Denis MacShane Calls for Release of 7 Ambassadors’ Letter on Antisemitism and the ‘Double Genocide’ movement in Lithuania

When a ‘Human Rights Association’ accepts and repeats the antisemitic canards in town



O P I N I O N

by Dovid Katz

ORIGINAL DOCUMENT HERE

“Also, it has been started to require the sentence of the citizens of the Jewish nationality ― Yitzhak Arad, Fania Brantsovsky and Rachel Margolis, as these citizens (former Soviet guerrillas) have organized the massive slaughter of civilians in Kaniūkai Village, Lithuania (killing 38 civilians) on 29 January 1944. Attention should be paid to the fact that the very Y. Arad has departed to Israel.”  — from the statement just published by the Lithuanian Human Rights Association (LHRA), signed by ten of its leading experts and approved by its committee.

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Posted in A 21st Century Campaign Against Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors?, Antisemitism & Bias, Double Genocide, Dovid Katz, Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Israel, News & Views, Opinion, UŽGAVĖNĖS (SHROVETIDE) | Comments Off on When a ‘Human Rights Association’ accepts and repeats the antisemitic canards in town

Lithuania and Tolerance



O P I N I O N

by Geoff Vasil

2010 was an astonishing year for human rights in Lithuania. Toward the beginning of 2010 there were public demonstrations in the capital by self-designated patriotic youth, decked out in various paramilitary costumes, in plain clothes bearing variations on swastikas and wearing white arm bands. These Lithuanian neo-Nazis marched across the main streets and squares in Vilnius on independence day (March 11th), made a showing to protest against a silent march of people from the main square to a cemetery to honor the dead on Soviet Victory Day (May 9th), and most spectacularly managed to outnumber 10 to 1 Lithuania’s first gay pride march (May 8th) with a violent mob throwing objects, hurtling insults and proudly waving flags with pseudo-swastikas behind police lines. The gay pride march almost didn’t happen, as it hadn’t many years in a row, because of bureaucratic impedance from the Vilnius municipality over issuing a permit and from law enforcement and the parliament. The neo-Nazi marches, on the other hand, had support from within parliament, MPs who personally asked for, and got, permits from the city for a march. Several MPs also came to the anti-gay pride protest with bullhorns, stormed police barriers and generally foamed at the mouth, caught on camera.

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Posted in Free Speech & Democracy, Geoff Vasil, Human Rights, LGBTQ Equal Rights, News & Views, Opinion | Comments Off on Lithuania and Tolerance

Who Got Stupid, the European Parliament or Us?



O P I N I O N

by Leonidas Donskis

The European Parliament recently reacted by way of a resolution to a piece of draft legislation by a member of the parliament of the Republic of Lithuania, Petras Gražulis. If enacted, his legislation would have de jure expelled from public life homosexual citizens in the country. Since then, several comments  have already rung out in our public space in Lithuania, whose essence, despite differences in levels of nuance, is similar: that the European Parliament is allegedly interfering too minutely and grandly in the affairs of the Republic of Lithuania; that it is allegedly violating the principle of subsidiarity; that it is applying double standards because it was so careful in commenting upon the sins of France in the sphere of human rights but ruthlessly attacks the new member states, first and foremost Lithuania.

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Posted in EU, Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Leonidas Donskis, LGBTQ Equal Rights, News & Views, Opinion | Comments Off on Who Got Stupid, the European Parliament or Us?

MEP Donskis challenges attacks on European Parliament’s queries on Lithuanian Parliament’s homophobic legislation


In a new essay, published in Lithuanian on 2 February , and in English on 7 February 2011, MEP Professor Leonidas Donskis takes to task Lithuanian commentators and politicians who have attacked the European Parliament for daring to criticize proposed new homophobic legislation making its way through the Lithuanian Parliament. He also takes note of the unfortunate role of state security services in realms they should have nothing to do with in an EU democracy, while bemoaning their total lack of concern with politicians and their top advisors who flirt openly with neo-Nazi ideology and policies. He writes: ‘Perhaps it is time to worry about the stench from the rising tide of fascist ideas and interpretations of history in our political life and media instead.’  Full text here.

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‘Today on the Street, Tomorrow in Parliament’ is neo-Nazi Rallying Cry in Kaunas


Neo-Nazi marchers in Kaunas today, Lithuania’s February 16th Indendence Day celebration, carried a banner reading (in translation): ‘Today in the Street, Tomorrow in Parliament’. The reference was both to the general goal of the movement, and in reference to a neo-Nazi employed as an assistant to a prominent member of parliament (the Seimas), herself formerly the head of the antisemitic Genocide Center, who has announced his own candidacy in forthcoming municipal elections.

'Today on the Street, Tomorrow in Parliament' reads this sign displayed during the neo-Nazi march in Kaunas on 16 February 2011. Photo by N. Povilaitis (Lrytas.lt).

By apparent agreement with authorities, the marchers brandished swasticals rather than classical swastikas.

Report and images on Lrytas.lt.

Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Celebrations of Fascism, Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Kaunas Neo-Nazi Marches, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views | Comments Off on ‘Today on the Street, Tomorrow in Parliament’ is neo-Nazi Rallying Cry in Kaunas

Reply to Rokas Grajauskas: Condemnation of Communism Does Not Require Submission to Double Genocide, Holocaust Obfuscation, or the Recent Deterioration in Civil Society and Free Speech in Lithuania


 


O P I N I O N

by Dovid Katz

NOTE: This reply to the Lithuanian Foreign Policy Review paper by Rokas Grajauskas first appeared on the website of LFPR (direct link here).

Rokas Grajauskas cites me in his recent article on these pages as invoking the notion Holocaust Obfuscation (a term I proposed at a London seminar in February 2008, then formally in 2009) to refer to “the efforts of the post-Communist countries to revive the memory of Stalin’s crimes.” Nothing could be further from the truth. The web journal I edit, DefendingHistory.com, although dedicated primarily to the battle against trivialization of the Holocaust and the concomitant racism and antisemitism of the new Far Right in Eastern Europe, contains a page on Soviet crimes, where I wholeheartedly embrace such Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly resolutions as 1096 (1996) and 1481 (2006), which wisely and rightly condemn Soviet crimes. It is vital that the full extent of these crimes be documented, the victims honored, the subject properly taught in international curricula, museums and memorializing institutions established, and justice pursued to the full extent of law. It is every bit as vital that Western commitment to Baltic security and independence remain unwavering, what with a huge unpredictable neighbor “with a certain past” (and unclear future) situated to the immediate east.

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Posted in Double Genocide, Dovid Katz, EU, Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Hungary, Lithuania, Opinion, Politics of Memory, US State Dept Manipulated? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Reply to Rokas Grajauskas: Condemnation of Communism Does Not Require Submission to Double Genocide, Holocaust Obfuscation, or the Recent Deterioration in Civil Society and Free Speech in Lithuania

595 Bold Lithuanian Citizens Condemn 2011 Neo-Nazi Independence Day March in Central Vilnius


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).

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Celebrations of Fascism, Free Speech & Democracy, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Vilnius Neo-Nazi Marches | Comments Off on 595 Bold Lithuanian Citizens Condemn 2011 Neo-Nazi Independence Day March in Central Vilnius

Delfi.lt publishes (pseudonymous) defense of neo-Nazi youth


Delfi.lt, Lithuania’s principal internet news portal, publishes on its website pseudonymously signed long comments in the format of proper news and opinion pieces. Such items, sometimes bereft of any actual author’s name (and responsibility), are thereby given the higher status of signed articles that carry the aura of an editor’s hand or editorial approval, in contrast to the free-for-all characteristic of numbered comments or talkbacks added at the end of a proper article. In other words, such items ascend to higher respectability, irrespective of Delfi.lt’s disclaimer confirming that opinion pieces represent only the writer’s views.

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Lithuanian Fascists Checking Lists of Citizens who Oppose Fascism



O P I N I O N

by Geoff Vasil

Ričardas Čekutis, an organizer of the March 11th 2011 neo-Nazi march through central Vilnius and the head of public relations at Lithuania’s Genocide Research Center, an institution nominally tasked with (and paid for by the taxpayers) to promote genocide research and education, recently answered some criticism of himself and his ideas, a neo-fascist political party and neo-Nazi marches, questions that were posed by Darius Kuolys.

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Freedom of Speech is not ‘Pick and Choose’: On the Paleckis Trial in Vilnius



O P I N I O N

by  Dovid Katz

DefendingHistory.com disagrees with each and every word that Lithuanian politician Algirdas Paleckis has uttered about the events in Vilnius, Lithuania, of January 13th 1991 when courageous unarmed protesters for freedom and independence were mercilessly murdered by armed Soviet forces.

As students of Voltaire (though the famous quote is by his biographer Evelyn Beatrice Hall), we disapprove of all that Paleckis has said about January 1991, but we will join the fight to the finish for his right to say it and not be subject to trial in a member-state of the European Union and NATO.

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Budapest Judge Throws Out War Criminal’s ‘Libel’ Case against Dr Efraim Zuroff, praises the Holocaust Historian for Pursuing Justice


Budapest judge Viktor Vadasz of the Pest Central District Court ruled today in favor of Dr Efraim Zuroff, Holocaust historian and director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office, in a case that foreign observers have taken to be emblamatic for the sometimes topsy-turvy world of East European politics: glorification of Nazi war criminals amidst vilification of those who would want them brought to justice and the truth about local Holocaust history told and taught.

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Posted in Events, Free Speech & Democracy, Hungary, News & Views, Politics of Memory | Comments Off on Budapest Judge Throws Out War Criminal’s ‘Libel’ Case against Dr Efraim Zuroff, praises the Holocaust Historian for Pursuing Justice

Masked Men Throw Smoke Bombs in Small Vilnius Theater, Disrupt Film on Anti-Fascists


On Monday evening 2 May (Yom Hashoah), at about 7 PM, five or six masked perpetrators forced their way into a small theater in Vilnius showing a film about the formation of the anti-fascist movement in France and hurled military-type smoke bombs at the screen. Viewers, including a child, fled in panic and unable to breathe. Some witnesses claimed they saw members of the Lithuanian military participating.

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Three Years Later: Neither Charged nor Cleared


marked three years to the day since police in Vilnius came looking for Holocaust Survivors Dr Rachel Margolis (born 1921, at right of photo) and Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky (born 1922) in a ‘war crimes investigation’ that has still not been publicly closed.

Both women were incarcerated in the Vilna Ghetto from 1941 to 1943. Both lost their entire families to the barbarity of the Nazis and their local collaborators. They both escaped, on different days in September 1943, to join up with the anti-Nazi partisans in the forests of Lithuania. The underground forest fort, a half-hour’s drive from Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital, where Fania lived with another hundred or so Jewish escapees of the Vilna Ghetto, is being allowed to sink into the ground and disappear from history’s view.

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Posted in A 21st Century Campaign Against Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors?, Antisemitism & Bias, Double Genocide, Dr. Rokhl (Rachel) Margolis (1921-2015), Events, Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania, News & Views, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Three Years Later: Neither Charged nor Cleared

Democratic Hungary’s First Nazi War Crimes Trial Opens in Budapest


The courtroom was packed as post-Soviet democratic Hungary finally put one of its own citizens on trial for alleged complicity in the genocide of the country’s Jewish population in the Holocaust. The massive local media coverage pointed to what some observers called a mood of national catharsis breaking a taboo against admission of Nazi-era complicity that has swept much of the new-accession state area in the European Union.

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