Viewing cable 08VILNIUS472
Title: EMBASSY VILNIUS: INPUT FOR OSCE HUMAN DIMENSION

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
08VILNIUS4722008-06-16 14:04:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Vilnius
VZCZCXRO0426
OO RUEHAST RUEHFL RUEHLA RUEHMRE RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHVL #0472 1681404
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 161404Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY VILNIUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2420
INFO RUCNOSC/ORG FOR SECTY COOP IN EUR COLLECTIVE 001
UNCLAS VILNIUS 000472 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PHUM OSCE PREL KDEM LH
SUBJECT: EMBASSY VILNIUS:  INPUT FOR OSCE HUMAN DIMENSION 
MEETING 
 
REF: STATE 60838 
 
¶1.  Summary:  Anti-Semitism and general intolerance are areas 
of concern in Lithuania.  There are three specific issues 
that could warrant an expression of concern at the HDIM 
meetings:  (1) lack of consistent condemnation by GOL 
officials of intolerant acts; (2) lack of protection of an 
old Jewish cemetery in Vilnius; and (3) continued delays in 
the effort to restitute Jewish communal property.  End 
summary. 
 
¶2.  GOL officials should speak out strongly and immediately 
when acts of anti-Semitism or intolerance occur.  This 
responsibility is explicitly noted in the OSCE's Berlin 
Declaration.  It has not been met on numerous occasions in 
¶2008.  The most prominent event was a march of skinheads on 
March 11, Lithuania's independence day, that was anti-Semitic 
and anti-Russian (Note: Ethnic Russians make up 5.1 percent 
of the local population).  Government officials did not 
condemn the march until a week had passed, a week that 
included numerous media stories about the event and numerous 
opportunities for leaders to express their concerns.  In 
several other incidents involving displays of swastikas and 
other anti-Semitic or racist materials, the GOL made no 
statements of condemnation. 
 
¶3.  The GOL should take steps to grant comprehensive cultural 
heritage protection to the old Jewish cemetery in the 
Snipiskes neighborhood of Vilnius.  The cemetery was 
encroached upon during the Russian imperialist occupation in 
the 19th century and desecrated during the Soviet occupation. 
 The combination of the murder of over 90 percent of 
Lithuania's Jews during WWII and fifty years of atheistic 
policies under the Soviets resulted in the removal of all 
visible vestiges of the cemetery.  However, Jews around the 
world consider the cemetery an extremely sacred site and are 
outraged that it remains threatened by development.  If the 
GOL took concrete steps to provide comprehensive protection 
to the site, this would promote and protect Lithuania's 
diverse history and would send a clear message of tolerance 
and respect for human rights, including respect for the dead 
and respect for religious freedom. 
 
¶4.  The GOL has for several years promised to provide for the 
return of or compensation for communal Jewish property, which 
was taken by the Nazi and Soviet occupying regimes.  Jews 
made up over ten percent of the pre-war population in 
Lithuania, including a higher percentage in major cities. 
Only the tiniest fraction of Jewish property has been 
restituted, despite extensive privatization of property since 
independence in 1990.  Many of Lithuania's OSCE and EU 
neighbors in Central and Eastern Europe have taken steps to 
restore Jewish communal property.  If the GOL fulfilled this 
promise, it would warrant praise at the HDIM meetings. 
 
CLOUD