August 11, 2021

Lithuania - Use of Holocaust memory at anti-vaccination rally in Vilnius

Protest rally outside the Lithuanian parliament
against vaccination pass / J. Stacevičius/LRT
Vilnius - The Israeli Embassy in Lithuania has condemned the use of Holocaust iconography at Tuesday's rally, where some protesters were comparing planned pandemic restrictions to discrimination of Jews.

“We condemn any cynical exploitation of the Holocaust memory. Any use of this painful memory of the victims for any other purpose than honoring their memory, education, and combating anti-Semitism, is unacceptable,” Adi Cohen-Hasanov, deputy head of the mission, said in a statement circulated by the Israeli Embassy.

“Eighty years ago, Nazi Germans and their local collaborators brutally killed some 95 percent of Lithuania's Jews after putting them into small ghettos where they had to survive under terrible social restrictions and sanctions.

“Using this painful and violent page in our past for comparisons with today's public disputes is incompatible with the lessons we should have drawn from history. We hope that Lithuanians will strictly condemn these actions,” Cohen-Hasanov said.

  

The Embassy of Germany has also reacted to Holocaust iconography at the rally.

“We deplore any abuse of the memory of the Holocaust. No current political debate justifies any reference or comparison with the genocidal crimes committed eighty years ago by the Nazi German occupiers and their local accomplices,” German Ambassador Matthias Sonn is quoted in a statement.

US Ambassador Robert S. Gilchrist posted on Tuesday night: “The Holocaust was a horrific chapter in Lithuania’s history, with countless dead, including at the hands of neighbors. Invoking these images for political gain is abhorrent and must be condemned.”

Around 5,000 protesters held a rally outside the Lithuanian parliament on Tuesday to oppose planned measures which would restrict access to some services for non-vaccinated people.

One of the organizers, Astra Genovaitė Astrauskaitė, compared the planned restrictions to Nazi German policies. A number of participants used the Star of David and Holocaust iconography to make the comparison.

This week, the Lithuanian government will consider measures that would require people to present immunity certificates in order to access certain services. According to the government, the measures are aimed at incentivizing people to get vaccinated against Covid-19 and avoiding a full-scale lockdown.

Source: lrt