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Lithuanian Government Wins World Praise

Speaker of Seimas Parliament, Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen

On September 23, 2021, the Seimas Parliament passed a resolution, calling on local municipalities to restore long-standing Jewish cemeteries. The Seimas Resolution No. XIV-542, initiated by Speaker of the House Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen, was met with praise and applause by world leaders. It is a move that is being perceived as the promulgation of law that is in line with international standards of Human Rights and Freedom of Religion standards.

A spokesman for the Save Vilna Coalition, expressed appreciation to government leaders, for their bold move.

The September 23, 2021 Resolution comes on the heels of a Vilnius City Council Resolution, passed on August 25, 2021 by Mayor, Remigijus Šimašius which urges the Lithuanian Government to push ahead with its 2015 plan to build an international conference center on the Snipsikes Jewish cemetery. This is the same holy ground on which 50,000 Jewish graves rest.

The move by the Mayor Šimašius was met with shock and disbelief from world leaders. Intentional law experts, Professor Irwin Cotler and Professor Allan Dershowitz have both condemned the plan for the conference center on the 500-year cemetery, stating that it is unconstitutional according to Lithuanian and international law. The Snipiskes cemetery is the final resting place to the extended family of the Vilna Gaon, R. Abraham Danzig (famed author of the "Chayei Adam”), R. Moshe Rivkes (author of the "Be'er Hagolah") and many other holy Jewish scholars.

Members of the local Lithuanian Jewish community responded positively. Some remain skeptical however, over whether the Vilnius Mayor will move to comply with the Seimas resolution, as historically, he has resisted any effort to restore the desecrated graves. This has been in direct violation of local and international law.

A spokesperson for Save Vilna said that he was cautiously optimistic that all the parties will comply with Seimas Resolution No. XIV-542, instructing local authorities to restore long-standing cemeteries, within the framework of Jewish law.

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