"To: The Central Committee of the Lithuanian
"Copy to: The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the
"Until now we have not yet received a reply to our joint statement. We are surprised that the highest government agency of the Lithuanian SSR fails to observe the law; Article 47 of the Constitution obliges you to answer to our suggestions and statements.
"We did receive a short note from the Religious Affairs Commissioner. His was merely a standard reply, however. In it he does not acknowledge the suggestions and requests which we listed in our five-point statement. The commissioner did touch on one of our points by saying that at this time he does not anticipate that the Regulations for Religious Associations will be repealed. It is true that on several occasions employees of the Council for Religious Affairs, and on July 20 the commissioner himself, summoned bishops and administrators to Vilnius to tell them that our statements were abstract assertions without facts. The above mentioned Soviet officials were especially displeased with our reference to the frightening campaign of terrorization and degradation being waged against devout children who actively take part in religious services.
"In order to keep our statement as concise as possible, we did not include these concrete facts. We can fill volumes, however, listing concrete cases of children in Lithuania being terrorized to this extent. We are listing here only a few instances of terrorization which occurred in the schools of three rayons last spring:
"In Mažeikiai secondary School no. 3, students were forced to fill out questionnaires asking for the names of religious students in their class and the entire school.
"In January [Mrs.] Bučienė, who teaches grade 9D of secondary school no. 1, forced non-member [Miss] Marytė Česniauskaitė to attend a Communist Youth League meeting at which they discussed her "crime": attending church. A teacher at the same school, [Mrs.] Grigaliūnienė, as a punishment for attending church repeatedly kept grade 4C student [Miss] Rita Ruzgytė after school demanding to see her parents. Another teacher, [Mrs.] Narkienė, dealt with student [Miss] Santa Bučyte in the same way.
"On April 17 at Secondary School no. 4 in Telšiai, Valenčius, a teacher, bloodied grade 4B students Saulius Stonkus and Darius Mažeika when he forcibly removed the crosses they wore under their shirts. Karnishova, a temporary history teacher, mocked 9th-grade student [Miss] Rita Dumbliauskaitė by forcing her to discuss past and present priests and the condition of the Church. The forty-five minutes of class time did not suffice; the public ridicule was extended through recess.
"The Mockevičius family of Telšiai suffered because of their religious convictions: [Mrs.] Mockevičiene, a nurse at the hospital, was threatened by her department head, Tsirkova, with the loss of her children if she continued to allow them to serve at mass. Head Nurse Krupova threatened that Mockeviciene's son would be removed from the Medical Institute dormitory.
"Andriusevičius, who teaches at the Luokė Secondary School, Telšiai Rayon, prepared a list of methods designed to 're-educate' children so that they would no longer dare serve in church. In May and June of this year, Valius Ambroza (grade 6), Gintaras Jankauskas, and Saulius Leščcianskas (both grade 7), and other students were questioned by Principal Savickas; Vaseris, editor of the Telšiai Rayon newspaper; and two representatives of theRayon Communist Party Committee. Afterwards, the students and their parents were directed to the Telšiai Internal Affairs Department for additional interrogation. The police proved to be more humane than the above-mentioned teachers and Soviet officials; they explained that serving at mass was not a crime and even praised them, saying, 'At least this type doesn't break windows.'
"At Plunge Secondary School no. 1, the school's Communist Youth League activists Kačerginskas, Malakauskas, and Šakinis (tenth-grade students) tried to discourage student Vitalijus Semenauskas from attending church by beating him. His parents complained to the principal, the Department of Education, and even to the prosecutor. In response to their complaints, the principal threatened them with the loss of parental rights!
"During choir practice at Telšiai Secondary School on May 15, sixth-grade student Egidijus Želvys removed a Pioneer scarf which had been forcibly tied around his neck because he was not a Pioneer. [Mrs.] Pilipavicienė, a teacher, struck his face as another teacher, [Miss] Petraitytė, railed against him with obscenities. For his punishment, Želvys was not allowed to participate in the choir's concert. A large group of children witnessed the incident.
"Are these not facts? And they are but a small sample!
"Not a single person in Soviet Lithuania has been punished as yet for the persecution of religious believers. We demand severe punishment for all those who violate Soviet laws and common humanity. Furthermore, we draw your attention to the fact that such instances of atheistic coercion are not decreasing. A majority of the incidents arise from the unsuitable and one-sided explanations of Soviet laws by Religious Affairs Commissioner Anilionis. In his meetings with deans, priests, and Soviet officials, he always stresses that the laws prohibit children from participating in church services, choirs, processions, at mass, and so on. This prohibition is not to be found in any legislative document, however. On the contrary, in February 1978 former Religious Affairs Commissioner Tumėnas wrote in all the rayon newspapers that 'anyone who wishes to do so may perform religious rites.' (Not just attend — but actually perform them!) He made no mention of any age restrictions or the excluding of children. Article 50 of the Constitution permits, without exception, religious practice. Therefore, it permits the practice of religion (that is, the singing of hymns, participating in processions, etc.) and not mere passive observance.
"It is difficult to understand why a change in Religious Affairs Commissioners should result in a change in the interpretation of the laws as well when the laws themselves have not changed! This gives rise to confusion, arbitrariness, and protests.
"We feel that we have responded at least in part to the rebukes expressed by Soviet officials to the effect that our complaints are unfounded. We once again request that prompt measures be taken to forbid atheistic coercion.
August 17, 1979.
Priests of the Diocese of Telšiai (twnety-seven signatures): Rev. Vincas Velavičius, Rev. Julius Miškinis, Rev. Jonas Petrauskas, Rev. Vincentas Senkus, Rev. Adomas Alminas, Rev. Tadas Poška, Rev. Jonas Bucinskas, Rev. Kazimieras Gasčiūnas, Rev. Julijonas Tamašauskas, Rev. Petras Bernotas, Rev. Jonas Kauneckas, Rev. Jonas Ilskis, Rev. Jonas Gedvila, Rev. Vaclovas Stirbys, Rev. Juozas Jankauskas, Rev. Leonas Šapoka, Rev. Kazys Žukas, Rev. Anupras Žukas, Rev. Pranas Daugnora, Rev. Tomas Švamerys, Rev. Juozas Rutale, Rev. Henrikas Šulcas, Rev. Kazys Prialgauskas, Rev. lzidorius Juškys, Rev. Antanas Puodziūnas, Rev. Juozas Pačinskas, Rev. Klemensas Arlauskas."