OPINION | HUMAN RIGHTS | CHRISTIAN-JEWISH ISSUES | CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES | OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT | OPPOSITION TO ‘CONVENTION CENTER IN THE CEMETERY’ PROJECT | INTERNATIONAL PETITION
by Andrius Kulikauskas
As readers of Defending History know from Julius Norwilla’s recent article, this week is the rare and perfect opportunity for our concerns about the fate of the Vilnius Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt to be heard by Lithuania‘s Seimas.
The Seimas (Lithuanian parliament) is approving a package of investments that it will be making in 2021-2023 to pump Lithuania‘s economy as it battles the pandemic. Among the 49 billion euros of expenditures is a line item of 27 million euros for reconstruction of the Vilnius Sports and Congress Building Complex Project. (See page 3 here and page 84 here). In other words, this is money that will fund the endless desecration of the oldest Jewish Cemetery in Vilnius.
Incredibly, the Sports Palace, which the Soviets planted in the heart of the cemetery, is to be repurposed as a modern national convention center. Understandably, the European Union will not be providing any funding.
All interested parties in Lithuania and around the world have until Tuesday, November 10, 2020 to submit their suggestions for consideration by the Seimas‘s Budget and Finance Committee. Now is the time to write an email suggesting that the Committee strike this item from the stimulus package.
Those who know Lithuanian can go to this page, find Project Nr. XIIIP-5304 and click on the link at that line to generate the requisite email.
However, it is possible to submit suggestions in English. Below is a form letter with the requisite recipient, subject and header. It also includes a sample text which you may adapt as you like. Copy, paste, edit and send!
SUBJECT: PASIŪLYMAS TAP: XIIIP-5304 – Seimo nutarimo „Dėl 2021 metų, 2022 metų ir 2023 metų valstybės biudžeto ir savivaldybių biudžetų konsoliduotos visumos planuojamų rodiklių“ projektas
POSSIBLE DRAFT OF LETTER:
Pasiūlymas teikiamas TAP: XIIIP-5304 – Seimo nutarimo „Dėl 2021 metų, 2022 metų ir 2023 metų valstybės biudžeto ir savivaldybių biudžetų konsoliduotos visumos planuojamų rodiklių“ projektas
Dear Budget and Finance Committee,
(Optional: Introduce yourself!)
I respectfully suggest that you not provide any funding in 2021-2023 for the Vilnius Sports and Congress Building Complex Project (“Vilniaus sporto ir kongresu rumu pastatu komplekso projektas”). The Soviets desecrated the Vilnius Jewish Cemetery with this building and the planned activities there will further injure the people who were buried there and all who care about them.
Please heed the 52,000 people worldwide who have signed Ruta Bloshtein’s petition “Please Move New Vilnius Convention Center Project AWAY from the Old Jewish Cemetery”. https://www.change.org/p/please-move-new-vilnius-convention-center-project-away-from-the-old-jewish-cemetery
Please respect the ruling by the world’s senior authority among the rabbinate in the Lithuanian Jewish (Litvak) tradition, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, and the rabbinical court in Bnei Brak.
I respectfully disagree on this issue with the Lithuanian Jewish Community led by Faina Kukliansky and with the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe. They have no right to represent my interests in defending the sanctity of this cemetery.
(Optional: Why I care about this cemetery.)
(Optional: My arguments in defense of the cemetery.)
[Full name, contact information, location]
The paragraph “I respectfully disagree on this issue…” is very important to include, unfortunately. The Lithuanian government has recruited the Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe to legitimize the intended desecration. If you don‘t assert yourself, then you can expect to be dismissed as “a misinformed person who doesn‘t understand that we have taken all steps necessary to respect the cemetery”.
If you would like your position to be shared publicly, then please CC your letter to me, Andrius Kulikauskas, at email@example.com. I will collect these letters and share them through DefendingHistory.com. We will be able to reference them as we engage the Lithuanian government on this issue.