To the Chairman of the Praesidium of the Supreme Soviet of the
Lithuanian SSR To Dr. R.(omualdas) Krikščiūnas, Bishop of Panevėžys. To the Deputy of the Commission for Religious Affairs K.
Tumėnas To the State Security Committee
By the Rev. Balys A. Babrauskas, a resident of Kričinas in the Rayon of Pasvalys
Elections to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR will be held on June 15 of this year. Citizens have the right and obligation to participate. However, I, as a priest of the Catholic Church, have been discriminated against more than once by officials of the State Security organs and the Rayon and I have been treated as if I were beyond the law. I appealed to the State Security Committee in Vilnius and to the Minister of Justice in defense of my rights, and mentioned the violations of the law being committed by certain officials, but I received no concrete answer and received no protection. As the result of an entire chain of events (which I shall mention below) I refused to vote, as a citizen who has no rights, but only obligations.
On November 20, 1973, a group ot Security agents, under the leadership of Captain Jasinskas, while carrying out a search, grossly violated Article 192 of the Criminal Code of the Lithuanian SSR, which states the following: "All of the items seized and documents must be noted in the minutes of the search or in an attached list, noting their amount and size." The Security people did not note the seized items either in the minutes or in an attached list.
I was interrogated twice (11/21/73 and 8/2/74), as if I were being charged (being hungry I took some preferred food, that is, with the religious press being prohibited, I accepted the books given me), while in the minutes and in their statements they said I was being interrogated as a witness. I did not understand the answer to one question and they did not answer it, namely: "About whose criminal activity was I supposed to testify?" For that reason I renounce my signatures on (the minutes of) the interrogation, since I consider them both illegal.
After the search I was summoned to the headquarters of the Executive Committee of the Rayon of Biržai, where Chairman A. Tumėnas warned me,: "I have been empowered by the Security Committee of Biržai to war you not to talk with anyone about the search." I explained that the items taken during the course of the search included not only my personal religious books and other items, but also the property of the churches of Smilgiai and Suos-tai—prayerbooks, hymnals, and hymns with music. For that reason, I was obliged to explain to the parishioners who took them. With this warning the Security forces of Biržai demonstrated that the search was a crime, which they fear will be exposed. The criminality is proven by the nature of the confiscated items: new and old prayerbooks, catechisms, books of the New Testament. The store-purchased paper and all of the magnetic recording tape with my valuable recordings demands justice. Everything was thrown into sacks and put into a truck.
After the search, employees of the Biržai Rayon on various occasions spread the most vile rumors about me. For example, "On leaving the parishes of Suostai and Smilgiai, Reverend Babraus-kas embezzled the parish treasury." Upon inquiry, I learned that not one government official made any inquiries with the parish committees about the treasury. They are not concerned with the truth. The law prohibits slander, but everything is possible in the case of a priest. He will not complain and will not find justice. Not only that, but during public lectures they frequently threatened that "Rev. Babrauskas won't die a natural death.". For that reason I had the right and the obligation to say to my parishioners in a sermon: "Since not only am I being publicly slandered, but also threatened, I therefore remind you, my parishioners, to know who is at fault if anything happens to your pastor." Life under such conditions leads me to question: Where do I live? Where is the government, the laws, human rights? Is it possible that anything is permissible with regard to a priest and a religious man?
Late in the afternoon of August 1, 1974, I received a summons to appear at the headquarters of the Vilnius Security Committee at 10 a.m. on August 2. There was a funeral that day, a scheduled baptism, the devotions of Our Lady of the Portiuncula and it was also First Friday. For those reasons I refused the summons. That evening the chairwoman of the Krinčinas District Executive Committee asked me to go, since they did not cease calling her and threatened to bring me in by force. For the sake of peace and quiet, I agreed to go and leaving everything traveled all night to keep the appointment. For what? A fire? An accident? The people who brought the deceased did not find a priest. Those who brought the child tor baptism found no priest. There was no priest for the Portiuncula Devotions or for First Friday. "He was summoned to Security headquarters in Vilnius. What will they do to him? That is how the State treats us and the priests." complained the faithful. What is the purpose of that anti-State propaganda, the intimidation and the torment directed at the people.
I don't understand why the State uses all of the power of the Security forces and spends all this money for the harassment of priests and the faithful. As proof that such is the case, I shall mention one instance. Before the search of my residence, a parishioner and I were repairing the roof of the church of Smilgiai, when a woman arrived with four children whom I was to examine concerning their knowledge of the catechism. Being on the roof, I requested that they wait in the churchyard until I finish my work. The woman sat down on a bench and taking out a copy of the catechism, began teaching the children. The following day Jasinskas, the Chief of the Security forces in Biržai visited me in Smilgiai and demanded to know "What nun taught the children catechism on your premises? That is a crime! Write a report."
I will also cite a few instances to illustrate the actions of the Rayon authorities.
After arriving in Krinčinas, I wanted to transfer the telephone which I found in my apartment to my own name. I inquired at the Krinčinas Post Office about such possibilities. I was told that the Krinčinas Post Office had seven available numbers, with no applications. I sent an application to the director of the Communications Center in Pasvalys. He replied that the decision on my application to have the telephone reregistered will be made by therayon authorities. A few days later I received the following reply: "In answer to your application, this is to inform you that it is impossible to transfer to your name the telephone formerly assigned to Citizen Pranas Raščius, since said number is needed bv the Krinčinas collective farm. C. Monkevičius, Director of the
Workers arrived immediately and removed the telephone. I appealed to Kazimieras Tumėnas, the Deputy of the Council for Religious Affairs, but received no reply. I am prohibited from having even such a trifle as a telephone.
On November 1, 1974, at 3 p.m., at the conclusion of the All Saints Day services, I found a notice in my mailbox stating that I should report to the office of the Krinčinas Collective Farm at noon that day to meet with the vice-chairman of the Executive Committee of the Pasvalys Rayon. I was ordered to report at noon. The notice was signed by the secretary of the Krinčinas area. However, on my way to Church for services, I had not yet received notice. Having read the notice, I showed it to three other people. What could it be? A mistake? I checked with the headquarters of the Krinčinas Rayon, whether they had forgotten to bring it to me. No. They had received the notice before noon on November 1.
On November 20, I was assailed in the following fashion at the Executive Committee of the Pasvalys Rayon:"Why are you ignoring the local authorities? We summon you, and you don't come. Don't let it happen again. We won't tolerate that." I tried to explain that it was a physical impossibility, since I was ordered to appear at noon, but received the invitation at at 3 p.m. They paid no attention to my explanation but again emphasized: "We will no longer tolerate being ignored." What was I to do?
Here are two other examples of the persecution of believers: In March 1975, Valė Uzelienė, who delivered the mail for the Laisvoji Žemė Collective Farm was fired from her job because she attended church. Chairman Strickas, of the Smilgiai area told Uzelienė that the "law prohibits believers from working as letter-carriers. Whether you like it or not, we will throw you out of work." He carried out his threat. Uzelienė appealed to the editors of Valstiečių laikraštis, who turned the complaint over to those who had fired her, and as if to make light of her, they informed her that the complaint had been sent to the local authorities.
In 1973, in the school at Suostai, (Miss) Gelažiūtė, a teacher after having scolded and derided Antanukas Belekas, an orphan, boxed his ear while class was in session because he had attended church. Let them strike, since who will defend an orphan!
Again and again my parishioners suffered at the hands of the atheists because of their beliefs. The atheists can freely use every means against the faithful. That is only a small part of the sorry examples which I see and experience.
It is sad that in numerous officials one sees little humanity, but experiences an impatience, fanaticism and sometimes even terror. Where is the Constitution? Why doesn't anyone defend the rights of citizens? When you seek justice, you are greeted by silence.
As an ordinary citizen I ask: Can I vote? Why should I vote?
As long as the faithful under my care and I are being discriminated against, attached by the authorities, slandered, and as long as the items confiscated during the searches are not returned, I will not be able to vote.
Krinčinas, June 11, 1975 Rev. B. Babrauskas