We present the declaration of the Rev. Sigitas Tamkevičius, the curate of the parish in Simnas, to the Procurator's Office of the LSSR:
"On April 29, 1972, I was summoned by the Alytus Rayon Executive Committee. The members of the commission had gathered in the office of the rayon chairman: the rayonchairman, two deputies, the chief of the propaganda and agitation department, and a correspondent from the Council for Religious Affairs. Summoned as witnesses were Father Matulevičius, the pastor of the parish in Simnas; Father J. Grigaitis, the dean of Alytus; and Father Turčinskas, the dean of Daugai.
"For about an hour, Comrade Jančauskas, the vice-chairman of the rayon, sternly accused me of things I had not even dreamed of. I was not allowed to explain at all. When I attempted to speak, Comrade Jančauskas declared: 'We haven't gathered here for discussions!' And when I tried to explain myself in regard to a certain slander, the representative from the Council for Religious Affairs snapped at me: 'You can explain yourself at the Procurator's Office!' Thus, while listening to the gravest accusations, I had to remain silent. Murderers and robbers have the right to speak in defending themselves, but I, being a priest, was not permitted to do so. As if that were not enough, Comrade Jančauskas called this performance a 'high-level warning,' asserting that 'we're very humane' and 'in the postwar years, nobody would have bothered to speak to you like this...'
"Since the accusations that were propounded are slanderous, I feel the need to reply; because in addition to the government officials, three other priests participated in this talk and the deans were obligated to report the given warning to the ecclesiastical administration, I am sending copies of my reply to the deans and curias referred to.
"First of all, I was accused of slandering Soviet schools and Soviet life in my sermons. This is untrue. There were instances when I brought to light in my sermons certain evils in connection with violations of the freedom of conscience. This was not slander, but reality. If need be, I am ready to illustrate with concrete and numerous facts that I had not lied. If need be, I can present witnesses who can clearly testify that I had spoken the truth.
"It is totally incomprehensible to one who has grown up in the postwar years that government officials fear the truth. After all, truth must be the foundation on which the state rests. In my opinion, those who criticized me mercilessly should have thanked me for having called attention to existing evils. One must respect citizens who tell the truth, and one must fear those who, while pretending to be ardent patriots, toady to the government hoping to ingratiate themselves and conceal from its sight shortcomings which neither benefit anyone nor bring honor.
"I was charged with organizing the writing of complaints in Simnas and Santaika to various government agencies...
"When accusing someone, one must have proof, for to use various speculations as a basis does not bring honor to the officials of the Executive Committee.
"I was further accused of informing the foreign press about teacher [Mrs.] Brilienė, about the first warning given by Comrade Jančauskas, about the funeral of teacher [Miss] Babarskaitė.
"Had I no conscience, I could with no less firmness assert that Comrade Jančauskas kad passed on the above-mentioned information to the foreign press, or someone else of the higher-ranking government officials. Since when do Soviet laws permit the public accusation of a citizen regarding offenses of one sort or another without any proof? It seems to me that with the expansion of ties with foreign countries, one should not be surprised if news widely disseminated in Lithuania also reach the foreign press. And in Lithuania, seemingly, speaking about the present times is not forbidden. Even when Comrade Jančauskas presented his first warning, he did not order me to say nothing. If that had been a state secret, then the pastor of the church in Simnas and the chairman of the town of Simnas would not have participated in the talk, and the secretary of the locality would not have been sitting just outside the open door.
"I was charged with fabricating the speech Father Juozas Zdebskis gave during his trial, with disseminating it throughout Lithuania, and with passing it on to the foreign press. Only a completely irresponsible official could have accused me in this manner. Can it be that the experts do not have the means to determine who wrote the statement referred to: the Rev. S. Tamkevičius or the Rev. J. Zdebskis?
"I was also accused of organizing children to serve mass. I was given some sort of memorandum from Kuroyedov, the chairman of the Council for Religious Affairs, and ordered to banish the boys from the altar and the girls from the processions.
"I stated to the members of the commission that I would sign Kuroyedov's memorandum when it would be published in Vyriausybės žinios [News of the government] and when it would be legally binding.
"I did not organize or teach the children. The parents themselves send them to serve mass. Let Comrade Jančauskas ask the children's parents about this, and then let him bring charges, but he did the opposite: first he accused, and now probably, he will look for proof.
"As for chasing children away from the altar, I can assert that I did not become a priest in order to chase away children when they are worshipping God. They have the right to pray where they please: by the altar or by the door, and not where some official would prefer.
"Having heard all of the charges, I realized why the deans had been summoned and why I had not been permitted to explain myself. Comrade Jančauskas had even ordered that this procedure be reported to the curias. In other words, the ecclesiastical administration and the clergy are to begin talking about me like about some terrible criminal. Could it be that at times there is an adherence to the folk proverb, 'If you want to shoot a dog, you should announce that he is rabid'?
"I therefore protest against the slanderous campaign being conducted against me and request the Procurator's Office to take measures so that government officials would cease persecuting me because I am a priest, that they would cease reminding me of the postwar time of terror, whose burden even the most loyal Communists experienced." (N.B. This rebuttal is abriged.)
This declaration was mailed in early May, but the Procurator's Office has not sent any reply.