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February 7, 2012 2:56 pm

Washington Author Launches Petition to Stop This Year’s Neo-Nazi March in Lithuanian Capital

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Image from one of the previous years' neo-Nazi marches on the main boulevard of Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital. The "Lithuanian swastika" has the added lines meant to signify a medieval national symbol of the country, now merged with the swastika in the practice of contemporary Lithuanian neo-Nazis. Photo: Vidmantas Balkunas.

Since 2008, an annual March 11th neo-Nazi march has been held with legal permits from the government and police protection on the main boulevard of Vilnius, the picturesque capital of Lithuania. Coming on the nation’s independence day, it has caused untold pain to Holocaust survivors and their families, as well as to the wider Jewish community, and the Russian, Polish, Roma and other ethnic communities who have been insulted by the marchers’ chants. Last year, marchers included a member of parliament and an official from the state-sponsored “Genocide Center” who has made numerous anti-Semitic slurs.

But this year is different, thanks to the bold initiative of Washington DC resident Olga Zabludoff, who hails from an old Lithuanian Jewish (Litvak) family from the towns Dusat (Dusetos) and Butrimants (Butrimonys).

Zabludoff, an author and editor who has published a number of works on Lithuanian Jewish culture and history, launched an international petition this week on Change.org addressed to the Lithuanian ambassador to the United States under the heading: “Ban Neo-Nazis from Desecrating the Dignity of Lithuania’s Independence Day.”

Three hundred people from all over the world signed the petition during its first day of life.

In the open letter to the ambassador, the petition asks:

“What kind of message is a neo-Nazi march on the main boulevard in the center of the capital of an EU/NATO/OSCE member nation, proceeding legally on the nation’s Independence Day?

“Last year during the Independence Day neo-Nazi parade, Vilnius’s only functioning pre-war synagogue was defaced with the words ‘Juden raus.’ The participants in the parade displayed fascist symbols and chanted Nazi slogans against ethnic minorities. Last year there were about 1,000 participants; this coming March 11 permits no more than 2,000. Is this the chilling forecast of a spreading malignancy among Lithuania’s youth?

“On one of the proudest and most meaningful days on the Lithuanian calendar, these affronts serve as terrifying and painful memories for the country’s small minorities of Jews and Roma, and to ethnic Russians, Poles and others who have been targets of abominable chants in previous years. They are also insults to all decent Lithuanian citizens as well as blemishes on their government who will tolerate these indignities. It is an affront to the free world that can only cause damage to Lithuania’s standing in the world.

“Please ensure at the earliest time that these permits will be revoked. Please ban these neo-Nazi parades from the beautiful streets of the magnificent capital of Vilnius.”

The petition can be found at:

http://www.change.org/petitions/lithuanian-ambassador-to-the-united-states-ban-neo-nazis-from-desecrating-the-dignity-of-lithuanias-independence-day

For more background please visit:

www.DefendingHistory.com

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