OPINION | HUMAN RIGHTS | CHRISTIAN-JEWISH ISSUES | CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES | OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT | OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER
by Andrius Kulikauskas
In 2020, Lithuania’s Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė struck funding and thereby ended plans to convert the Vilnius Sports and Concert Palace into a congress center. The Soviets had desecrated the heart of Vilnius’s oldest Jewish cemetery at Piramónt (Šnipiškės) by constructing and utilizing this building there. 53,000 people signed Ruta Bloshtein’s petition asking Lithuania’s leaders not to desecrate it further. Many people from around the world wrote letters which convinced the Prime Minister to strike funding.
In 2022, the Prime Minister announced the formation of a Commission to develop a vision whereby the Vilnius Sports and Concert Palace would be repurposed as a Jewish memorial and museum. Unfortunately, no compromise can make this building compatible with the cemetery it desecrates. Sadly, the Commission has yet to include any of the local Litvaks who opposed use of the building. International support is needed that their voices be heard.
On April 6th, as a member of Gerbkime kapines (Respect Cemeteries), I wrote to First Deputy Chancellor Rolandas Kriščiūnas to raise my concerns about this lack of representation. Sadly, he has been slow to reply.