Press release, 16 June 2020
At the Seimas sitting, a commemoration was held to mark the Day of Mourning and Hope as well as the Day of Occupation and Genocide and to commemorate the tragic losses and the resistance effort. Immediately after the commemoration, the Seimas adopted a Resolution on the Soviet Occupation of the Republic of Lithuania in 1940 and its Consequences (for more information, please click here).
Viktoras Pranckietis, Speaker of the Seimas, Arūnas Gumuliauskas, Chair of the Seimas Commission for the Cause of Freedom and the National Historical Memory, and Julius Sabatauskas, Member of the Seimas born in exile, delivered their speeches at the event.
At the beginning of the commemoration, Mr Pranckietis, Speaker of the Seimas, said that 50 years ago, in 1970, during the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Constituent Seimas, the surviving activists of parliamentarianism in exile appealed to governments and parliaments around the world to hold the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, a conspiracy deal signed on 23 August 1939, null and void. The Pact had led to the extermination of entire states and nations. ‘In 1989, the Soviet Union itself recognised the illegality of the Pact. However, today attempts are in place to review the decision. It is our duty to prevent such a revisionist and revanchist policy from being recognised. Let us be worthy of our predecessors so that our mourning for the victims of occupation and genocide always inspires us with sufficient motivation and hope to go on,’ the Speaker of the Seimas underlined.
Mr Gumuliauskas, Chair of the Commission for the Cause of Freedom and the National Historical Memory, pointed out that, in the context of the 80th anniversary of the tragic events of 15 June 1940, neither do we, as a country, seek revenge, nor foster hatred. We are not willing to impose on anyone the collective responsibility enshrined solely in legislation of totalitarian regimes. ‘However, we do not have the right to forget the tragic facts of modern Lithuanian history, because we must convey the message about them to future generations so that they know and appreciate the human value of the loss and restoration of independence,’ Mr Gumuliauskas said.
He reminded the audience that, in an effort to destroy the Lithuanian nation, the occupiers worked largely along two principal lines. ‘First of all, the active part of the population was arrested in no time, put under interrogation immediately, and done away with without delay. This was accomplished as early as in July 1940, before the ‘People’s Seimas’ was even elected and while the Constitution of Lithuania was still in force. Moreover, members of the nation’s elite were arrested on charges deriving from the Criminal Code of the USSR. Most of these people went missing forever. The second line of action of the occupying powers were mass arrests and deportations. This required more preparation and more time. Therefore, the drafting of the list of people who had to be arrested and exiled began as early as in 1940. The implementation of massive deportation began on 14 June 1941. In brief, occupation meant that hundreds of thousands of innocent people became victims, had to undergo suffering, and had their destinies broken,’ said the Chair of the Seimas Commission on the Cause of Freedom and the National Historical Memory.
In the words of Mr Sabatauskas, Member of the Seimas, although today we live in a democracy and a republic of free people, yet there are many temptations and initiatives around to restrict the rights and freedoms of some of the people. ‘However, this is no reason for losing our determination. Let us not succumb to the temptation of restricting democracy, parliamentarianism or human rights, even when we see such efforts in other countries, including democracies known as the bastions of freedom. Let us remember the history of our people and let us not only be vigilant, but also show solidarity and the willingness to be fair to each other,’ said the MP born in exile.
Memorable moments on the Seimas Flickr account