FCNM Advisory Committee 4th opinion on Lithuania (excerpts on Anti-Semitism and historical memory), 2018

II. Article-by-article findings

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Article 5 of the Framework Convention

Support for the preservation and development of national minority cultures

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39. The Advisory Committee notes with satisfaction an increased interest in and a number of activities on the Roma Holocaust. The Ministry of Culture published a leaflet and a children’s book on this topic. In 2015, the Genocide and Resistance Research Centre organised an exhibition commemorating Roma victims of the Nazi occupation. 38

38 State report, p. 44.

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Article 6 of the Framework Convention

Tolerance and intercultural dialogue

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46. The Institute for Ethnic Studies conducts regular monitoring of “social distance” between ethnic groups. According to the 2017 results of this survey, 6% of respondents would not like to live in the same neighbourhood as Poles. For Russians, the percentage is 7%. 15% of respondents would not like to live in the same neighbourhood as Jews. For Muslims, the figure is at 45% and for Roma 64%. Approximately 2 000 persons belonging to Lithuania’s Roma community are indeed confronted with widespread negative stereotypes in society. More than 40% of respondents in a 2014 survey quoted in the state report43 said they would not like to work with a Roma person. These attitudes systematically inhibit the access of Roma to their rights to effective equality (see Article 4), education (see Article 12) and participation in socioeconomic life (see Article 15) and has become visible in a number of cases of discrimination, hate speech and police misconduct (see below).

43 State report, p. 51.

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49. The Advisory Committee regrets the existence of anti-Semitic discourse in the media, specifically in online media, as mentioned by several interlocutors. It notes in particular the case of an anti-Semitic statement made by the “Ombudsman for Academic Ethics and Procedures”. 48 The statement was publicly condemned immediately by the Speaker of the Seimas and the Prime Minister. The Parliament, in a decision welcomed by the Advisory Committee, voted in March 2018 by qualified majority to dismiss the person from office. The Advisory Committee notes, furthermore, that the representatives of the Jewish community in Vilnius expressed concerns about the security of its buildings and would like more public support for the purposes of their security.

48 The Baltic Times (9 February 2018, Lithuania’s parlt speaker urges academic ethics guard to resign amid anti-Semitism claims, available at. www.baltictimes.com/lithuania_s_parlt_speaker_urges_ academic_ethics_guard_to_resign_amid_anti-semitism_claims

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Article 8 of the Framework Convention

Restitution of property

56. The Advisory Committee notes that under a law on property restitution adopted in 2011, the Lithuanian government will transfer a total of 37 million EUR in compensation to the Goodwill Foundation by 2023. The money is to be used for financing Lithuanian Jewish religious, cultural, health-care, athletics, educational and scholarly projects in Lithuania. From 2013 to 2016 the Government has paid 14.4 million EUR in total to the Goodwill Foundation. According to information provided by the Jewish community, 14 synagogues have been returned to the Lithuanian Jewish Community. Several dozen more synagogues listed on the registry of cultural treasures currently belong to the municipalities and private owners. Some of these, such as the one in Pakruojis, have already been renovated, others such as the one in Kalvarija, are still in need of funding. 57

57 Website of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, available at www.lzb.lt/en/2017/09/27/inter-institutionalcooperation-for-the-preservation-of-lithuanian-jewish-heritage, www.lzb.lt/en/2018/03/07/pakruojis-woodensynagogue-featured-on-lithuanian-public-tv-culture-channel, and www.lzb.lt/en/2018/04/06/kalvarijamunicipality-to-renovate-synagogue-complex

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Recommendation

58. The Advisory Committee encourages the authorities to continue a constructive dialogue with religious communities on restitution of property and support the renovation of religious buildings. In particular, support should be provided to the Muslim community in its efforts to build a mosque at a central location in Vilnius.

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Article 12 of the Framework Convention

Cultural diversity in education and teaching and learning materials

77. The Advisory Committee notes with interest that the Education Development Centre under the Ministry of Education has developed teaching modules on national minorities and intercultural understanding, but regrets that these topics, according to interlocutors, are not included in the general curriculum for teacher education. Education activities on the Holocaust, including the Holocaust against the Roma, such as regular seminars for teachers, are conducted by the “International commission for the evaluation of the crimes of the Nazi and Soviet occupation regimes in Lithuania”.83 Furthermore, the Advisory Committee welcomes that the Ministry of Education is reviewing teaching and learning materials as regards the portrayal of persons belonging to national minorities. It was informed that one of the findings so far is that they do not contain enough information on Roma and that the Ministry of Education plans to remedy this situation. Given the widespread prejudice about the Roma community in society (see Article 6), the Advisory Committee recalls that measures to amend teaching and learning materials are very important.

83 State report, p. 44.

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Document data: ACFC/OP/IV(2018)004 ; adopted 30.05.2018, published 08.01.2019 Link: https://rm.coe.int/4th-advisory-commitee-opinion-on-lithuania-english-language-version/1680906d97 Also available in French

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