MINELRES: Lithuania: Bulldozer in Vilnius Roma district

MINELRES moderator minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Thu Dec 9 16:18:22 2004


Original sender: Egle Kucinskaite <egle_kristina@one.lt>


Dear Organizations,

I beg your attention to events in Vilnius, Lithuania. The Mayor of
Lithuanian capital sent a bulldozer to demolish houses of Roma
yesterday; the action continues today. As all TV stations informed in
their evening news, all houses of Roma (in this seggregated district)
should be ruined as a measure "against spread of drug selling" by the
recent resolution of Vilnius Municipality. Other media informed
previously that only uninhabited shacks will be destroyed. Three of 4
houses, destryed yesterday, were inhabited.
 
In fact many of Roma houses are constructed illegally and stand their
for decades. This group live more than half century in this place as
settled. By law the Municipality has a right to destroy "illegal
buildings". 

Representatives of Vilnius Municipality informed media that Gypsies have
a right to apply for housing. Such declarations are very manipulatory,
as, at my opinion, provision with housing should be done at least a day
after people moved to newly provided housing. Everybody knows tragic
situation with social housing sector in Vilnius. E.g. In Kaunas, which
is a little bit smaller than Vilnius, only 5-7 economically poor
families will get social housing. My colleague in Vilnius will find more
about the situation in this sector in the capital.

You should take into account cold climate of our zone and present season
of the year.

Unfortunately, I have to state that any adequate force is available in
Lithuania to the moment to resist such things. Most human rights
organisations are very sceptic towards "Gypsies" and social and criminal
situation in this seggegated place is very difficult.

Two most active persons for rights of these people, present in the field
yesterday and today:

Ms. Ausra Simoniukstyte, lecturer from Vilnius University
Mobile +370 611 55142
sima11@takas.lt
She promissed to provide testimony to internet today.

Mr. Saulius Berzinis, documentlist
Mobile: +370 698 06788
berkopa@hotmail.com
He was beaten (for the 1st time in his life) yesterday by authorities
while filming destruction process. But he will continue today.

I myself am sitting unfortunaltely in Kaunas and have a "normal" work
day in one private enterprise.  I could not reach any Roma
representatives yesterday by phone, as numbers of their mobiles are
changed or they are in emigration.

Hopefully, one center of Vilnius University, were Ms. Ausra works, will
start a supporting public campaign. I only am afraid that most Roma may
become de facto homeless during this weekend. About 400-500 people live
near 70-80 houses in this place, not far from Vilnius International
aeroport.

Hopefully it is possible to do something in reality, not only describe
that later in reports, like a monument on the grave.

Parallely one can observe racist support for this action in internet
news, recommending to bury Gypsies alive calmly and cleanly for "any EU
dog would not smell out".

A representative of Minority Department visited the place yesterday too.

Yours sincerely,

Egle Kristina Kucinskaite
Kaunas