Senator Clinton Calls on Lithuanian Government to Address Reported Desecration of Historic Jewish Cemetery
Concerned by reports of desecration at the historic Snipiskis Cemetery in Vilnius, Lithuania, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has joined with Helsinki Commission Co-Chair Senator Sam Brownback (KS) in calling on the Lithuanian Government to take action. As members of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe - the U.S. Helsinki Commission - the Senators wrote to Lithuanian Ambassador Vygaudas Usackas, urging that he make their concerns known to the appropriate authorities and that his government take steps to stop the desecration.
"The Snipiskis Cemetery is an important historic and cultural site to many Jewish people and I am very concerned about reports that it is being desecrated," Senator Hillary Clinton said. "I hope that Ambassador Usackas looks into these reports and that his government takes steps immediately to help resolve this issue."
The Helsinki Commission is an independent U.S. Government agency created in 1976 to monitor and encourage compliance throughout Europe with the Helsinki Final Act and other commitments of the 55 countries participating in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
[A copy of the Senators' letter is attached]
COMMISSION ON SECURITY AND COOPERATION IN EUROPE
234 FORD HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING
WASHINGTON, DC 20515-6460
The Honorable Vygaudas Usackas
Ambassador of the Republic of Lithuania to the United States
Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania
4590 MacArthur Boulevard, s. 200
Washington, D.C. 20007
Dear Ambassador Usackas:
As Members of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, we recognize the important contribution that Lithuania is making toward European integration and to the development of democratic governance and civil society in the signatory states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. We also appreciate your country's strong support and cooperation in the war on terror.
In this connection, we would like to call your attention to an issue that has been brought to our attention by concerned members of the Jewish community in the United States. They report that the historic Snipiskis Cemetery in Vilnius has been desecrated by public projects and may suffer further desecration in the future. They also contend that Lithuanian authorities have resisted efforts to seek objective evidence regarding the cemetery, and are unwilling to address this issue in a forthright manner.
We urge you to convey our concerns to the appropriate authorities, and hope that this matter may be resolved in a manner consistent with justice and respect for the heritage and religious traditions of the Jewish people.
We look forward to your response and extend our best wishes.
Sam Brownback, U.S.S.
Chairman Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S.S.