Nijolė Sadūnaiteėwas arrested on August 27, 1974. A search of her residence turned up a copy of the 11th issue of the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, which was being copied on a typewriter.
Since Miss Sadūnaitė refused to answer questions during the preliminary interrogation, the interrogators threatened to place her in a psychiatric hospital. She was not allowed to receive food packages for two months.
At the end of January 1975, Miss Sadūnaitė wrote a letter to the prosecutor, protesting the arbitrariness of the interrogators and their threats to place her in a psychiatric hospital.
In March of 1975, the interrogators inquired at the Vilnius Psychiatric Hospital on Vasaros Gatvė and the Psychoneurological hospital of Naujoji Vilnia, whether Miss Sadūnaitė had ever been treated there. The answers received were in the negative.
In April of 1975, Miss Sadūnaitė's case was separated from Case 345 and was listed as Case 416.
The Supreme Court of the Lithuanian SSR began considering the
case of Nijolė Sadūnaitė on June 16, 1975. The session began at 10 A.M. It was chaired by Kudiriashov; the State Prosecutor was Bakučionis.
The following witnesses were summoned to appear:
Jonas Sadūnas (Nijolė's brother)
Vladas Sadūnas (her cousin)
Regina Sadūnienė (Vladas' wife)
Povilaitis (the principal of the middle school)
At the start of the session the witnesses were isolated and were ordered out of the courtroom after giving their testimony, so they could not follow the court proceedings.
Only six soldiers and five security agents (Pilelis, Jankauskas, Platinskas and others) were in the courtroom. The chief judge allowed only Jonas Sadūnas, Nijolė's brother, to remain in the courtroom. Outsiders were not permitted to enter the courtroom. Security guards informed them that the court proceedings were closed.
Nijolė Sadūnaitė refused to answer the questions put to her by the court, stating: "Since it is not I, but you who are the criminals, violating the most elementary human rights guaranteed by the law, the Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and defending lies and the use of force and violence, when after slandering and sentencing innocent people you torture them in prisons and labor camps, I refuse to answer all questions put to me by the court, in protest against this case."
In refusing the services of an attorney, Miss Sadūnaitė explained: "The trial of Father A.(ntanas) Šeškevičius in 1970 opened my eyes. When he was sentenced for fulfilling his priestly duties, Lieutenant Gudas of the security police threatened to bring a similar case against me as that against Father Šeškevičius and to put me in prison because I hired an attorney for Father Šeškevičius. In room 225 of this very building, Kolgov, a former member of the Security police threatened my brother and relatives, demanding that I abandon my concern for the defense of Father Šeškevičius. It seems that hiring an attorney for a priest is a 'monstrous crime.' Since, according to you, I am a particularly dangerous state criminal, and not wanting to have you terrorize those who would hire an attorney for me, I waive the services of an attorney. That is one side of the coin."
The other side lies in the fact that truth needs no defense, since it is all powerful and invincible. Only treachery and lies, which are powerless in the face of truth, need weapons, soldiers and prisons to prolong their vile but evil dominance. It is rightly said that a one-sided government digs its own grave. I am just and would give my life for justice. There is no greater joy than to suffer for justice and for (other) people. Therefore, I need no defense attorney. I will speak for his stead."
Statement in Her Own Defense
"I would like to tell you that I love all of you as my brothers and sisters and, if need be, without hesitation, would give my life for each of you. Today, that is not necessary. But I must tell you the sad truth to your face. It is said that only he who loves has the right to criticize and scold. In addressing you, I make use of that right. Each time people are tried in connection with the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, the following words of Putinas [a noted Lithuanian writer and poet.—Tr. Note] seem most appropriate:
'In arrogant tribunals
Murderers condemn the just.
You trample altars
Both sin and righteousness
Collapse under the weight of your statutes.'
"You well know that the supporters of the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania love their fellow men and are struggling only for their freedom and honor, as well as the right to enjoy freedom of conscience, which is guaranteed to all citizens without regard to their beliefs by the Constitution, the law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and are seeking to assure that these not remain just beautiful words on paper nor lying propaganda, as at present, but in reality be put into practice. The words of the Constitution and the law are important if they are not applied in real life and the all prevalent discrimination against believers is legalized.
"The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, like a mirror, reflects the crimes atheists perpetrate on believers. Immorality is not captivated by its own loathsomeness; it is horrified by its own reflection in the mirror. For this reason, you hate all those who tear away your veil of hypocrisy and lies. The mirror, however, does not lose its value. A thief steals money; you rob people by taking from them that which is of greatest value—loyalty to their own beliefs and the opportunity to pass that treasure on to their children—the younger generation.
The fifth article of the Convention in the Area of Education guarantees the right of parents to determine their children's moral and religious education according to their own beliefs. Nevertheless, (Mrs.) Rinkauskienė, a teacher, interrogated in my case states in the record that 'Since there is a single Soviet school (system), there is no need to confuse children and teach them hypocrisy.'
"Who teaches children hypocrisy? Is it teachers like these, or parents, who are guaranteed the right to raise their children according to their own beliefs? Parents and not teachers are for some reason blamed, when children, whose parents have lost their authority through the influence of the school, go to the dogs."
"In the record of her interrogation, (Miss) Keturakaitė, a teacher at High School No. 10 in Klaipėda states: 'Since I am a history teacher, I have occasion to explain questions of religion to my students. In explaining the origins of Christianity and at the same time the myth of the origins of Christ...'
"How can Miss Keturakaitė explain questions of religion which are outside her area of competence, when she is illiterate even in the area of history, since she still maintains the obsolete atheist lie that Christ is but a legend. Such illiterates educate the younger generation and use their authority as teachers to pound lies into the consciousness of their students.
"The interrogators: Lieutenant Colonel Petruškevičius, Rimkus, Chief of the Interrogation Subsection, and Kazys, the Deputy Chief of the Interrogation Section, many times threatened to place me in a psychiatric hospital because I did not answer their questions; in spite of my explanation that my silence was a protest against this trial. Having tired of these threats, I wrote letters of complaint to the republican state prosecutor, to the chairman of the Security Committee and to the chief of the interrogation section, requesting that the latter place the letter in the record of my case. The letter was not placed in the record. But Deputy State Prosecutor of the Republic, Bakučionis, who is seated right here, replied in writing that they have the right to carry out a psychiatric examination, though in the opinion of the interrogators, there is no basis for one.
"But you see that was not the subject of the letter, which was a protest against the abuses of the interrogators who seek to intimidate the person being interrogated and to force him to violate his conscience. In my statement I wrote, and I quote: 'Does an interrogator have the right to threaten the person being interrogated with confinement in a psychiatric institution or with psychiatric testing, when the person being interrogated refuses to violate his conscience and his beliefs? During my interrogation Lieutenant Colonel Petruškevičius repeatedly threatened me with confinement in a psychiatric hospital, which would be much worse than a prison, simply because I didn't answer his questions. The first time he saw me, Deputy Chief of the Interrogation Section Kazys officiously diagnosed me as schizophrenic, as having schizophrenic ideas, and threatened to have me examined by the Psychiatric Commission of which he is a member. Major Rimkus, the chief of the Interrogation Subsection repeatedly threatened me with a psychiatric examination, when I did not answer his questions. Is Soviet justice based solely of fear? If I am mentally ill, I should be treated, not threatened with the illness. Is one at fault if he is ill? But even the interrogators are not convinced of that, since for the fifth month in a row they are threatening me with commitment to a psychiatric institution in an effort to break my will. By such conduct the interrogators violate human dignity and I protest such actions towards me. By the use of force to elicit testimony, the interrogators violated Article 187 of the Criminal Code of the Lithuanian SSR, which states: 'A person conducting an investigation or a preliminary interrogation, who during the course of the interrogation uses force, threats or other illegal means to obtain testimony—
'is liable to three years in prison. Similar actions which include the use of force or the mockery of the person being interrogated, are punishable by from three to five years in prison.' (Editor's note.)
"After I sent my protest, Rimkus, the chief of the Interrogation Subsection, reproached me for complaining and mocked me saying: 'If you react that way, you are abnormal. You don't know all of the legal technicalities.'
"Yes, I am unfamiliar not only with the technicalities, but also with the essence of the law, since I didn't study it. However, I now know that it is normal for Soviet prosecutors to lie and slander others, not only to the accused but to complete strangers. Such actions constitute spiritual hooliganism, which should be punished, since it takes longer for a spiritual trauma to heal than a physical one.
"You are not concerned at all with correcting injustice. On the contrary, you tolerate and encourage it. As proof, we can note that witnesses questioned in my case, who were able to verify the facts published in theChronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, were first asked how the facts could have reached the editors of theChronicle, to whom had they told the facts, who had heard them, and the like.
"What you fear is the word of truth. The interrogators didn't question or summon those who are filled with hatred for those who are of differing opinions, those who fired (Miss) St.(asė) Jasiūnaitė, a teacher at Kulautuva High School, for wearing a crucifix, and who mocked her in various ways and would not even hire her as the lowliest kitchen help. The interrogators did not summon Markevičius, the chairman of the Executive Committee of the Council of Working People's Deputies of Panevėžys, or Indriūnas, the chief of the Finance Department, who fired (Miss) Marytė Medišauskaitė, a secretary-typist with nine years experience, because she attended church.
"Yet you always proclaim that religion is a citizen's private affair and that all people have equal rights without ragard to their beliefs. Your propaganda is beautiful, but the actual facts are ugly! The interrogators paid no attention to the crime committed by Kuprys, the principal of the (grammar) School of Naujoji Akmenė, and the other members of the Education department, in firing of a teacher, who, while on a field trip to Kaunas with her students, permitted them to make use of a toilet in the Kaunas park where Romas Kalanta immolated himself. (SeeChronicle No. 10—Ed. Note). What a crime!
It is strange that you are still frightened of the ghost of Romas Kalanta. But how is the teacher to blame?
"The interrogators did not warn any of the senior physicians, who abuse their positions by not permitting the dying to avail themselves of the services of a priest, even when such services are requested by the patients themselves or their relatives. Even a criminal's last wish is heard. But you have the nerve to mock a person's most sacred beliefs, at one of his most trying moments— the hour of his death—and like thieves you brutally rob thousands of believers of their moral rights. That is your Communist morality and ethics!
"Angus, an instructor at the University of Vilnius, coarsely slandered Pope Paul VI, the late Bishop (Pranciškus) Bučys, the Rev. (George) Laberge and the Rev. (Pranas) Račiūnas. (See the Chronicle, No. 10. Eds.). When will that loathsome slander be retracted? It was not withdrawn because lies and slander are your daily bread.
"Frightened by the ideas of Mindaugas Tamonis, an engineer working in the area of the restoration of monuments and a recipient of a candidate's degree in the technical sciences, you confined him to the psychiatric hospital on Vasaros Gatvė, hoping to 'cure' him of his beliefs.
"Who gave you the right to tell pastors which priests they may or may not invite to retreats and devotions? After all, the historic decree 'On the Separation of Church and State, and Church and School' affirms that the State does not interfere in the internal affairs of religious groups. In Lithuania the Church is not separated from the State but is oppressed by it. Government organs interfere in the internal affairs of the Church and its cannons in the coarsest and most unacceptable manner. They order priests around arbitrarily, and punish them with no regard for the law.
"These and hundreds of other facts witness that the atheists' purpose—to make all men their spiritual slaves—justifies any means — lies, slander and terror.
"And you rejoice in your triumph? What remains after your triumphant victory? Moral ruin, millions of unborn fetuses. Defiled moral values. Weak debased people overcome by fear and a passion for life? All of that is the fruit of your labors. Jesus Christ was correct when he said 'You shall know them by the fruit of their labor.' Your crimes are propelling you towards the garbage heap of history at an ever increasing rate of speed.
Thank God, not all people have been broken. Our strength in society is not in quantity but in quality. Fearing neither prison nor labor camp, we must condemn all actions which bring injustice and degradation or result in inequality or oppression. Every person has the sacred duty to struggle for human rights. I am happy that I have had the honor to suffer for the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, which I am convinced is fair and necessary, and to which I will remain faithful until I breathe my last. Thus, pass what laws you like, but keep them to yourselves. What is written by man must be distinquished from that what is ordained by God. What is due to Ceasar is but the remains of that due to God. The most important thing in life is to free one's heart and mind from fear, since concessions to evil are a great crime.
Statements of the Witnesses
Jonas Sadūnas stated that he had never read the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania and knew about the items confiscated from his sister only from the records.
Vladas Sadūnas testified that Nijolė had given him three issues of the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania and the book Simas. (These publications had been found during a search of V. Sadūnas' residence.)
(Mrs.) Regina Sadūnienė stated that Nijolė did not give her a copy of the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania for her perusal.
During the interrogation, Principal Povilaitis, and (Miss) Šli-maitė, a teacher stated that Robertas Andrijauskas, a student at Ka-Su£iai grammar school died between the 26th and 28th of August 1973. During the trial, the principal testified that the student died on August 23, that his funeral did not take place during the course of school year and that no one interfered with those participating in his funeral. He asserted that he had never terrorized students or forced them to join the Pioneers. (See the Chronicle, No. 8 Eds.).
Kušleika testified that force was used in an effort to have his son Bronius join the Pioneers, but the boy ran home from the teachers' conference room. (See Chronicle No. 11, — Eds.).
Bronė Kibickaitė denied an assertion made by the court that Nijolė Sadūnaitė had given her a copy of theChronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania and (another publication) Advice on How to Act During the Course of an Interrogation for her perusal.
"As good friends you most likely attended church together?" questioned the judge.
When Miss Kibickaitė answered that this question had nothing to do with the facts of the case, the judge raised his voice:
"If I ask a question, you must answer!"
But the accused retorted, "It's a fact. You don't have the right to rummage around. Religious belief is one's personal affair!"
A ten-minute recess followed the interrogation of the witnesses. The witnesses were afterwards summoned back into the courtroom. The judge then asked Nijolė Sadūnaitė if she had any questions for the witnesses. The defendant asserted that the witnesses have the right to remain in the courtroom until the conclusion of the proceedings.
"We have laws!" said the judge, cutting her off.
"You're abusing the law," replied the defendant, pointing towards a book lying beside the judge. "Read what it states there. Witnesses have the right to remain in the courtroom until the conclusion of the proceedings."
"Don't insult the court!" shouted the judge, threatening to expel Sadūnaitė from the courtroom and conclude the proceedings in her absence. The witnesses were ordered out of the courtroom.
Prosecutor Bakučionis suggested a sentence of four years in a strict regime labor camp for Sadūnaitė, with another five years in exile.
The trial continued on June 17; spectators were again barred.
Sadūnaitė's Final Statement
"This is the happiest day of my life," stated the defendant. "I am being tried on account of the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, which is struggling against physical and spiritual human tyranny. That means I am being tried for the truth and the love of my fellow man. What can be more important in life than to love one's fellow man, his freedom and honor? Love of one's fellow man is the greatest form of love, while the struggle for human rights is the most beautiful hymn of love. May this hymn forever resound in our hearts and never fall silent. I have been accorded the enviable task, the honorable fate, not only to struggle for human rights, but also to be sentenced for them. My sentence will become my triumph! My only regret is that I have been given so little opportunity to work on behalf of my fellow man. I will joyfully go into slavery for others and I agree to die so that others may live. Today, as I approach the Eternal Truth, Jesus Christ, I remember His fourth beatitude: 'Blessed are they who thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied.'
"How can one not rejoice when Almighty God has guaranteed that the light will conquer darkness and the truth will overcome error and falsehood! I agree not only to go to prison but to die, in order to hasten that end. I want to remind you of the words of the poet Lermontov: 'The justice of the Lord, however, is just.' The Lord willing, God's justice will be favorable to us all. 'Throughout my life I will pray to the Lord for you, I wish to conclude by reading the following verses which came to me in prison:
'The harder the way I must traverse, The more I understand life. We are all obliged to strive for truth,
Conquering evil, without regard to the difficulty of the task.'
'Our brief days on earth are not meant for rest, but to participate in the struggle for the happiness of numerous hearts.'
'Only he who fully participates in that struggle will feel that he is on the right road.'
'One can experience no greater happiness
Than the determination to die for others.
On such occasion one's heart is filled with joy
Which cannot be ended by prisons, or cold labor camps.'
Thus let us love one another and we shall be happy. He alone is unhappy, who does not love. Yesterday you were surprised by my happy disposition at such a hard moment in my life. That proves the fact that my heart is filled with love for my fellow man, since loving others makes everything else easy!
We must sternly condemn evil, but we must love our fellow man, even though he has erred. That can be learned only in the school of Jesus Christ, who is the only truth, way and life for all. Dear Jesus, Thy kingdom come in all our hearts!
"I would like to request the court to free from prison, labor camps and psychiatric hospitals all of those who fought for human rights and justice. That would be a proof of your good will and would be a significant contribution in the effort to spread harmony and goodness in life, and would mean that the beautiful slogan, 'Man is man's brother,' would become reality."
The Decision of the Court
The decision of the court was read at the afternoon session.
Nijolė Sadūnaitė was charged according to Article 68, Paragraph 1, of the Criminal Code of the Lithuanian SSR. She was sentenced to three years in a strict regime labor camp and three years in exile for copying and distributing the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania.
Upon hearing her sentence, Nijolė Sadūnaitė inquired of the court, "Why so little?"
The court ordered that Nijolė Sadūnaitė's typewriter be con- fiscated.
On the afternoon of April 20, 1975, Security agents, having thoroughly searched Nijolė Sadūnaitė, confiscated all her notes, and transported her to a labor camp at the following address:
431200 Tengushevskii Rayon
pos. Barashevo, uchr. x385/3-4.
[Nijolė Sadūnaitė completed her sentence in 1977. Her address at the time of this publication is unknown. Trans. Note]
Nijolė Sadūnaitė was born in Dotnuva in 1938. Her father was an instructor at the Argicultural Academy. The deeply religious parents made every effort to raise her properly.
In 1955, she graduated from Anykščiai High School. Though believing students were discriminated against at the school, Nijolė never missed Sunday Mass. When visiting churches during field trips, Sadūnaitė was brave enough to kneel down and adore the Blessed Sacrament in front of her teachers and friends.
Nijolė cared for her sick mother for five years before her mother died in 1970. Her father died in 1964. She also solicitously cared for Monsignor P.(etras) Rauda. Every suffering person received a heartfelt response from Nijolė.
Sadūnaitė tried to minimize her own needs in order to assist others. She sometimes gave others items she herself needed most.
On April 20, 1975, Povilas Petronis had already reached his place of confinement. (For information about his trial see Chronicle No. 13). His present address is:
Mordovskaya, ASSR 431200 Tengushevskii Rayon pos. Barshevo, uchr. zh x 385/3-5
On March 17, 1975, Juozas Gražys was serving his sentence (see Chronicle No. 16) in the Perm Rayon. Perm Ob last Chuskovskii Rayon pos. Kuchino, uchr. v. s389/36
On May 2, 1975, Virgilijus Jaugelis began a hunger strike in the hospital ward of Lukiškiai Prison, protesting the fact that the Office of the Prosecutor of the USSR did not answer his letter of protest (See Chronicle No. 16).
On May 7, 1975, Virgilijus' sentence was commuted because of ill health and he was brought homeby automobilie, barely alive.
On June 20, 1975, a complicated stomach operation was performed on Jaugelis at the Kaunas Oncological Hospital. The best prognosis is that he will remain disabled.
The Catholics of Lithuania are asking, with reason: "Is a dialogue possible with those who recognize only lies and the use of force, those who physically destroy the best sons and daughters of Lithuania?"
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Vilnius. On April 7, 1975, the residence of (Miss) Jadvyga Lapienytė, a physician (12 Tilto g. 12-6) was searched, under supervision of Major Markevičius of the Security forces. The Security
forces were searching for "anti-soviet" literature, but found nothing. The post-search interrogation lasted five hours. Dr. Lapienytė was questioned about the incarcerated Nijolė Sadūnaitė. The interrogators were surprised that the physician, as a highly educated person, was still a believer...
Soon after Easter 1975, Father J.(onas) Lauriūnas, pastor of Kabeliai (Varėna Rayon) was summoned to Security headquarters in Vilnius. During the interview he was told that the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania would be of no value to the Catholic Church in Lithuania, but would only hurt it.
Ignalina. After Easter, Father K.(arolis) Garuckas, pastor of Ceikiniai, was also summoned to Security headquarters in Vilnius. He refused to appear because of his age. The Security people then came to Ignalina, where they "enlightened" Father Garuckas about the harm being done by the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania.
Vilnius. K.(azimieras) Tumėnas, the deputy of the Council for Religious Affairs demanded that Bishop L.(iudas) Povilonis make an effort to halt publication of the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania. The bishop answered that he had not brought it about, and was unable to do anything to stop it. The deputy was extremely dissatisfied with the bishop's passive attitude.
Kaunas. On March 3, 1975, Vytautas Vaičiūnas, an engineer, was summoned to appear at the headquarters of the Kaunas Security Committee. Since the summons was placed in his mailbox and picked up by Vaičiūnas only after the appointed time, he did not report as directed. A while later, he receive several telephone calls from the Security people urging him to appear in order to discuss his old problems.
Vaičiūnas answered that his trial was over and he had no old problems.
"Your case isn't over," answered the Security officer. Vaičiūnas promised to appear only if he received an official summons.
On May 12, Engineer Vaičiūnas went to Kaunas Security headquarters, where he was scolded for a letter which appeared in the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania (See Chronicle No. 15 —Ed.) The interrogator tried to force Vaičiūnas to sign a warning, stating that he had permitted a State criminal, P.(ovilas) Petronis, to stay in his home, that he had helped Petronis and Plumpa obtain an "Era" (copier), and that he had assisted Petronis ir perpetrating his crimes. If such action did not cease, he (Vaičiūnas) would be punished. Vaičiūnas refused to sign, saying that he could be punished even without signing.
* * *
. Pranas Šviontek