To: LSSR Minister for Internal Affairs Requests from: Rev. Pranas Masilionis, son of Jonas, Pasvalys Rayon, Krikliniai Parish
Please accept this expression of my respect and goodwill.
I would like to share with you, man to man, my concerns and thoughts.
I will speak honestly, with no intent to offend anyone, trusting in human compassion.
You are probably aware that I have vainly tried for the past six or seven years to gain permission to visit my brothers and sisters in America.
In that time, my brother Juozas has sent me three formal invitations, validated by the Russian Embassy.
The last invitation was also signed by American Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Ohio's Governor Brown. I am deeply grateful to them.
Unfortunately, all the invitations were turned down, here. No reason was ever given.
Over those years, I have written one letter of request to the Premier, with a copy to you, and the Premier's correspondence department notified me that the request itself was forwarded to the Internal Affairs Ministry; in other words, to you.
I wrote four letters of request to you, as Internal Affairs Minister. I sent all my requests by registered mail, but received no reply from either you or your office, nor any indication of whether you had actually received my registered letters.
I am invited to visit America by my brother Juozas, but he is doing so in concert with my sisters and my other brother: they are all inviting me. They are inviting me because it is a long time since we have seen one another, nearly forty years ago, and because we are all standing at death's door, being all old:
I am 75 years old; my brother Adolfas, a retired worker is 73; my brother Juozas, a doctor of medicine who is missing one leg, is 63; my sister Viktorija Miknienė, a surgeon, is 66; and my sister Stanislova, a hospital employee, is 58.
We would like to see one another before leaving this earth and say one last good-bye. It is true that this is a personal matter, but a very human, a very sensitive one . . .
When the replies are always negative, the heart is naturally wounded, as if imprisoned . . .
But people are still in charge here; they desire and seek good, but people, be they geniuses, make mistakes. Moreover, circumstances change: what was undesirable yesterday, might be useful today.
And on that basis, I have decided to express to you, a respected and responsible individual, some thoughts which might be beneficial.
I again sincerely assure you that I have no desire to offend or abuse anyone.
I ask you to judge whether I am mistaken in stating that the denial of permission to visit my relatives is illogical and detrimental.
My reasoning is as follows: Illogical.
1, an old and ordinary citizen, am not allowed to leave, while young, mature and extraordinary persons are allowed to leave, for example, A.(lexander) Solzhenitsyn with his Gulag Archipelago and his entire family; Bukovsky who spent over 10 years in psychiatric hospitals and labor camps; Pliushch allowed to leave directly from a psychiatric hospital after several years of misery; Simas Kudirka after the hardships of his trial and imprisonment; the Jurašas family, Tomas Venclova and others.
They leave full of experience, memories, feelings, thoughts. They leave free to speak and act.
What could I say in the West that the West still does not know? And if I were heedlessly to say something, what use would it be against the torrent of facts and statements which flow from the West over the radio broadcasts of various nations?
Does not this illogical attitude undermine the prestige of those in power?
No attention is given here to the one principle which is sud-dently and uncontrollably shaping people's decisions, namely:
Truth, freedom, order, cleanliness, well-mannered and educated behavior, justice, virtue, the well-being and satisfaction of people, friendship and similar things do not fear frankness.
Frankness is deathly feared by lies, deceit, disorder, exploitation, injustice, force, slavery, terror, conspiracy, planned destruction and the like.
The West is frank.
All anti-communists there have come to the conclusion that true democracy exists there, for, according to them, it is plain that true freedom exists there, that man is truly respected there, that society is flourishing there . . . The Russian Communists are secretive.
Another principle naturally begins to apply: Aha! the Russian Communists are hiding something terrible.
According to anti-Communists, the impression is formed that Communist leaders themselves—precisely those who in propaganda pass off Communism as peace doves, harvest wreaths, the rising sun—are the first to rate Communism poorly in reality, for out of deadly fear they keep it imprisoned, within iron walls, without doors or windows, to prevent anyone from bringing out news, to prevent any critical eye from noticing . . .
We should seriously reflect on how much dishonor and harm results to Communism itself and its leaders when there is no frankness. For instance, someone in the West asked Bukovsky: "How many labor camp inmates are there in Russia?" He replied: "250 million."
Such a statement should be refuted without delay. But how can it be refuted when impenetrable secretiveness quite eloquently attests to it!?
The Lithuanian translation of Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago is quite widely circulated throughout Lithuania.
Reports from Bukovsky, Amalrik, Pliushch, Simas Kudirka, the Jurašas family, the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, Aušra (Dawn) and from other individuals and publications which are flowing from the West in all languages, reveal in detail the reality of Russian communism and degrades it in the sight of all.
We must defend ourselves.
An effective defense is openness: "Come, look, examine from all sides, assure yourselves!"
Permission to travel abroad is essentially linked to openness.
The leaders of Communism defend themselves, but with empty words, for they hide from openness, as from death.
According to anti-Communists, the categorical demand "Don't interfere in our internal affairs!" is illogical.
If great and important accords like the Declaration of Human Rights and the Helsinki documents have been signed, then, by that same solemn signing, all states have authorized one another to monitor how the agreements are applied.
According to anti-Communists, if such an understanding did not exist, then the accords themselves would not be worthy of great leaders, they would be empty lies, absurd.
Therefore, that categorical demand by Communist leaders not to interfere in their internal affairs is illogical, it is demeaning to them, to communism and their states.
Moreover, this demand is also a betrayal: it gives rise not only to the impression but also to the conviction that the information provided by the above-mentioned individuals, publications and documents is accurate.
It can therefore be seen from broadcasts that the West is convinced that secretive, closed Russian Communism is slavery; that
Russia is a labor camp; that communism is not loved there; that terror is used to instill it in minds and hearts; that it is unrealistic even in the economic field; that its leaders are nonetheless attempting to impose it on all humanity—enslave and terrorize it in the same manner.
Openness is vital to eliminate these impressions, people must be allowed to come and go.
Yugoslavia is very open: many thousands of her workers yearly go to the West to earn a living and again return. No one suffers from this. The parties of the West are seriously striding toward human-itarianism and openness. They thereby gain much empathy.
The Declaration of Human Rights and the Helsinki Accords are the inexhaustible sources of true freedom and blessing, yearned over the ages by persons, nations and mankind.
A storm-like spreading movement for these rights is currently occuring in mankind. The future is theirs.
Achieving them now is the honor crown of state leaders, fearing neither openness nor storms.
Thus, in view of all the points I have made above, and for the common benefit of all of us, I ask with confidence in you, Mr. Minister, to grant me permission to visit my brothers and sisters in America.
My documents could be in Vilnius, at the visa office. What would I do if I am rejected again? I would feel very deprived and enslaved.
I would then be inclined to decide never again to participate in any political meetings or elections.
It would merely be a new sign for my brothers and sisters, their friends and all American society, alas a needlessly given one, that the above-mentioned charges are true.
Why is this necessary?!
Remarks: I have forwarded copies to the bishops, diocesan administrators, the Premier and Commissioner Tumenas.
Very respectfully yours, Rev. Pranas Masilionis
May 14, 1977
Pasvalys Rayon, Krikliniai Post Office.
N.B. Upon receiving a copy of the request, Religious Affairs Commissioner K.(azimieras) Tumėnas, summoned the Rev. P.(ranas)
Masilionis, and warned him that if his request is printed in the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, the government will never allow him to go abroad to visit his relatives.