Speech by Mr. Česlovas Juršėnas, Member of the Supreme Council – Reconstituent Seimas, Signatory to the Act of Independence, Speaker of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania at the Solemn Sitting to Commemorate the Days of Mourning and Hope, Occupation and Genocide and the 30th Anniversary of the Lithuanian Freedom League


12 June 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen,


On Saturday the Lithuanian people will commemorate in silent sadness the Day of Mourning and Hope, and the Day of Occupation and Genocide on Sunday. These are the darkest days in Lithuania’s history: on 15 June 1940 Lithuania was occupied by the Red Army of the Stalinist USSR and on 14 June 1941, as if celebrating the anniversary of the invasion, the occupant executioners and their local aids started the first massive deportation of Lithuanians to Siberia with unsurpassed cruelty when men were separated from their families and sent directly to death camps.


Today, like each year, the public and the participants of this Seimas sitting pay tribute to our famous state and public actors, bright people, and our relatives who perished, who were crippled, or whose lives were destroyed by an inhuman repressive USSR monster. We remember the deportees, prisoners of labour camps, participants of armed and unarmed resistance; we bow before them in honour and memory. Today, like each year, we must recall that during the period of Soviet annexation around 300 thousand Lithuanian citizens were deported to Siberia or imprisoned in labour camps. Every fifth prisoner or deportee died and 50-60 thousand our compatriots were buried in the foreign land.


Let us observe a minute of silence to honour their memory.


Dear friends,


The adjacency of the words of mourning and hope in the name of the day has manifested itself in other important historic dates and anniversaries.


This year we celebrate the anniversary of the reborn hope of the public – 3 June, the day of the establishment of the Reform Movement Sajūdis. A solemn sitting of the Seimas dedicated for the Sąjūdis was held in this hall. It was here that the international conference the Fall of the Berlin Wall: from Budapest to Vilnius thoroughly analyzed the reasons and circumstances of the collapse of the Soviet Empire and the end of the Cold War from the expert point of view. 


One more date coinciding with the Day of Mourning and Hope deserves respect and remembrance. That is the anniversary of the Lithuanian Freedom League. Today we mark the 30th anniversary of the organization that was established in 1978, which is ten years earlier than the Sąjūdis. From the very beginning the Lithuanian Freedom League sought to restore the statehood of Lithuania and to foster national, religious and political consciousness of Lithuanians. This was an illegal underground hope. The organization was lead by Mr. Antanas Terleckas, a figure well known to us, an energetic and extraordinary man from Aukštaitija, who celebrated his 80th birthday earlier this year. Mr. Terleckas is present in this hall and I think he deserves our applause.       


Due to the Moral Ultimatum to the Government of the USSR of 1979 and the Memorandum of 45 Baltic Nationals (the Baltic Charter) drafted on 23 August, the Lithuanian Freedom League acquired some international weight. It was the result of great courage and determination. The Memorandum was signed by 4 Estonian, 6 Latvian, 35 Lithuanian, and 10 Russian dissidents, including the academician Andrei Sakharov. An appeal was made to the Governments of the signatory countries of the Atlantic Charter and Secretary General of the UN requesting to declare the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact null and void and to eliminate its consequences, namely to withdraw the occupant army from the Baltic States.


On the grounds of the arguments of the Memorandum, the European Parliament adopted a resolution of 13 January 1983 on the Situation in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, which condemned the occupation and annexation of the Baltic States and urged the international community to recognize their right to free self-determination.


The Lithuanian Freedom League continued to relate the restoration of Lithuania’s independence to making the Ribbentrop-Molotov conspiracy public. The first public rally of the Lithuanian Freedom League that was intended for this purpose, was a meeting at the monument of Adam Mickiewicz in Vilnius organized on 23 August 1987, which gave the impetus to other public revival campaigns.


Ladies and Gentlemen,


The Lithuanian Freedom League with its maximalist strategy and the Lithuanian Reform Movement Sąjūdis, which started its activity in the context of the perestroika of Mikhail Gorbachev, were not close friends due to a number of objective and subjective reasons. Antanas Terleckas, Vytautas Bogušis and the likeminded received most support from the organization the Young Lithuania. However, undoubtedly, the Sąjūdis and the Lithuanian Freedom League, as well as other dissident organizations, are the wings of the same Hope and Victory. I believe that the members of the Lithuanian Freedom League do not envy the Sąjūdis for the widely recognized laurel of victory but they have the right not to pass into silence. I think that today we will contribute to their memory. I also believe that by commemorating the memorial days of our modern history we could also make a wider mention of the publishers of the Chronicle of the Lithuanian Catholic Church, the members of the Helsinki Group and other cases of resistance that we must not let fall into historic oblivion.                  

 © Office of the Seimas, 2008