Lithuania: Human Rights Torch Relay Lights Up Kaunas City

Initiated by the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (CIPFG), the Global Human Rights Torch Relay arrived in Lithuania on September 24th 2007 where it was warmly welcomed by local celebrities.

When the Human Rights Torch arrived in Lithuania's old town, Kaunas, some local human right organisations gathered at Unity Square in the centre of the city to welcome the Torch. Donning traditional costumes, two Lithuanians and representatives from human rights organisations escorted the human rights torch ambassadors to the National Independent Monument to ignite the Human Rights Torch in front of the Monument.

Human rights torch relay ambassadors walk through the centre of Kaunas

Escorted by two Lithuanians donned in traditional costumes and representatives from human rights organisations, Human Right Torch ambassadors ignited the Torch with the flame in front of the National Independent Monument.

The president of the Lithuanian Union of Political Prisoners and Deportees Mr. Jurate Marcinreviciene said, “I was sent to a concentration camp in Siberia in June, 1941, because my parents were teachers. Only one third of those who were sent there could survive. Back then, the Soviet Union sent a large number of Lithuanian intellectuals and social elites to the Soviet Union’s concentration camps in the Far East area, aiming to destroy the Lithuanian people’s thoughts. We understand and support those who are being persecuted in China.”

Maria Salzman, an ethnic Polish, expressed that in view of the fact that Polish communists had killed three million people during the peaceful period, she hoped that the Chinese people are able to forsake communism. She added, “I hope all the Chinese people would be as courageous as the 27 million people quitting the Chinese Communist Party and its affiliated organisations to help put an end to the Chinese Communist regime’s persecution against Falun Gong and Prisoners of conscience.”

The president of the Lithuanian Sajudis Human Rights Organisation Zigmas Kazlauskas presented a national flag of Lithuania and black bread to the CIPFG as a token of their sincere welcome to the distinguished guests.

Mr. Kazlauskas said: “It is an old tradition for us to present black bread, which symbolises strength, to guests from afar. That is what we should do as a host, and we will side with you in your fight for human rights.”

As the first stop of the Human Rights Torch Relay in Lithuania, Kaunas used to be the capital of Lithuania before it was occupied by the Soviet Union. In order to further enslave Lithuanians, Soviet’s secret agents killed over 2,000 Lithuanian elites in cultural, media and political circles on July 11th 1940, within one month after the Soviet Red Army invading three Baltic nations in June 1940.

In the short span of only one year, some 12,000 Lithuanians were put into prison by the Communist Party, and about 5,000 of them were killed. In a week from June 14th until June 21st, 1941, when the Soviet Red Army was chased out of Lithuania by German troops, nearly 40,000 Lithuanians who disliked the Communist Party were exiled to Siberia.

Under the fifty year tyrannical rule of the Communist Party, a large number of civic industries and ancient cultural structures in Kaunas City were destroyed altogether.

The three Baltic nations had never stopped fighting for freedom and fighting against the tyrannical rule of the Communist Party. On August 23rd, 1989, a massive demonstration was launched in the three nations, in which some two million people joined their hands to form a 400-mile human chain across Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. The number of those who participated in the demonstration accounted for about 40% of the three countries’ population, which showed the whole world their firm resolves to put an end to the Communist regime.

Sixteen years after the Lithuanian people broke away from the Communist tyrannical rule, the Human Rights Torch was relayed to Lithuania and arrived at Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania on the evening of September 24th.

Over the past one and a half months since the Human Rights Torch was lit in Greece on August 9th, it has passed through Germany, Czech Republic, Romania, Austria, Slovakia, Switzerland and France. It is scheduled to pass through over 150 cities in 37 countries within one year.

The Human Rights Torch Relay ambassadors passed through the centre of Kaunas City

Human Rights Torch Relay procession

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