To: General Secretary M. Gorbachev

From: Marytė Gudaitytė

Residing in: Prienų raj., Skersbalio km.

A Petition

Once again, I come to you in the hope that my request will be heard.

On March 27,1985, the Director of the Pranas Mažylis School of Nursing in Kaunas sent me to KGB headquarters to agent Jocas. The KGB agent, in the course of the interview, stated that I would no longer be able to study since I had signed Christmas greetings to the priest-prisoners Alfonsas Svarinskas and Sigitas Tamkevičius. As we were speaking, one more KGB agent entered and he explained that I would not be able to continue studies because it would be impossible to trust me as a nurse because they said I might give my enemies poison instead of medicine.

Director Tamošauskienė of the school said that she herself would not dismiss me from school, but the KGB required it and she had to carry out their orders.

On April 9, 1985, in accordance with Order No. 198,1 was dis­missed from the P. Mažylis School of Nursing in Kaunas for actions incom­patible with those of a Soviet student.

On April 12,1985,1 went with my father to the Ministry of Ad­vanced and Special Higher Studies. We were received by staff member Stanys of the Ministry of Education. He explained that I had been dismissed justly, but that I would be able to finish school the following year. After that, some offi­cial named Šnipas summoned me. He explained that writing letters to Fathers Tamkevičius and Svarinskas was a great crime. It amounts to anti-Soviet ac­tivity, and my father and I are extremists, and so my dismissal from school was justified.

In May of the same year, I wrote you a petition, requesting to be allowed to finish school. From the Ministry of Education I received a negative reply.

On April 4, 1986,1 again went to the Ministry of Advanced and Special Higher Studies. Stanys told me to go to the Pranas Mažylis Nursing School in Kaunas. On April 5,1 went there. Assistant Director cf the School Grigas said that I would not be able to study in this school, and advised me to go to some other nursing school. On April 11,1986,1 went to the Utena Nurs­ing School. The school director, upon finding out everything about me, was surprised at how I could still be working in the kindergarten, and refused my application. She told me to apply to the P. Mažylis Nursing School.

I therefore request you to help me to finish school. I wish to be a nurse and help people.

(To date, no one has replied to Miss Gudaitytė petition, and so far, she has no possibility of finishing the education she began. - Ed. Note)

Adutiškis (Švenčioniai Rayon)

Recently, in Adutiškis, persecution of school children for prac­ticing their religion has specially increased. The teachers, not satisfied with atheistic propaganda, visit the pupils' parents, threatening all sorts of punish­ments, if the parents continue to allow their children to come to church. Espe­cially sharp in his attacks on the parents is Teacher Trivickas.

Commentary on the article "Konfliktas gimtadienio diena" ("Birthday Conflict") by Aldona Svirbutavičiūtė:

On March 28,1987, Komjaunimo tiesa (Communist Youth Truth), in a long article responded to a complaint by believing parents concerning a conflict in the Village of Makniūnai, Alytus Rayon, where fifty children gathered to celebrate the birthday of the Gražulis sisters, and were roughly set upon and interrogated by militia, teachers and other activists. Newspaper correspondent Svirbutavičiūtė, emphazing the trend to "openness" and "democratization", com­ments widely on Senior Assistant Prosecutor Bakučionis of the Lithuanian S.S.R. to the complaint of parents. My attention was attracted by some peculiarities of this commentary's style and content, and it is this I would like to discuss.

In her article, the writer begins with the thoughts of a girl who has participated in a birthday to the effect that the evening will be pleasant since the parents have given permission for dancing and singing. We do not notice any criminal intent as the jurists phrase it. But further on, fragments from a let­ter by the parents are quoted: "Janina and Angelė Gražulis invited our children to a birthday party. We gave them permission on condition that there be adults present at the affair, and that the children should be home by eleven. At 10:10 P.M., an automobile drove into our yard. Some officials forced their way into the premises where the birthday was being celebrated. They then tried to jus­tify this intrusion by saying that a raid was being carried out on the Alytus Rayon House of Culture.

"Afterwards, a militia major began interrogating and threatening the children, demanding to know their names. We, the parents, protest against such arbitrary action by officials. What crime did the children commit, celebrat­ing a birthday party without alcohol, on private premises and under adult su­pervision? What did they do that was so terrible?"

There were eleven signatures under the complaint.

Even though Aldona Svirbutavičiūtė, as mentioned, submitted only excerpts from the parents' letters, here on the spot as though she were afraid of a flash of unadorned (but to us Catholics of Lithuania so familiar!) reality, she hastened to cover it up: "I shall say immediately - the parents are wrong. They know well that the children broke the rules for the behavior of minors."

However, even delving more deeply into the disjointed and vague article, the essence of "the crime" never becomes clear. The entire heavy "ar-tillary" of the accusation is that the children were visiting after 10:00 P.M. Strange. For we all know that the republican and regional press more than once expressed concern that most of the so-called discotheques and evenings of dance begin about midnight at best and continue until three in the morning. And not only adults participate. And perhaps we should pass over questions of sobriety and adult supervision, especially since official newspapers speak in sub­dued tones about violent "culture" and the "subtleties" of night orgies.

But try gathering fifty young people and arranging a birthday party without alcohol where young people would enjoy themselves - dancing under adult supervision, and singing folk songs spontaneously driven by an inner need! Does this not sound almost like a fantasy in the light of the demoraliza­tion ravaging our youth today?

Encountering such a phenomenon at the birthday party for the Gražulis sisters, not only the participants in the raid but also the reporter could at least have thanked those who planned the evening, the children's parents; at least to express astonishment at what method of education formed these young people, so noble, and what worldview supplies the support to sustain it as such. Alas, as we know from the parents' protest, it turned out exactly the opposite. What then, is the reason for the dissatisfaction of officials?

In the meaningful phrases of the article, separate phrases from in­terrogation from the children, the truth will out.

"At the Gražulis', we said a prayer and danced..."

"In the hall, on the wall, was a wooden cross."

"What did the participants in this affair have in common? Fami­ly relationship?"

No, explains the author of the article, for it was not only members of the Gražulius family who were present.

"Then perhaps it was friendship?"

But friendship can, in the view of the reporter, exist only among contemporaries. But here, there were older people, and even strangers! See, what criminals! Do not dare to assemble, Lithuanians, if you are not members of the same family, and if you (oh, horrors!) are possibly united not by family relationship, not by age, not profession, but by that cross of Christ hanging on the wall. So what if He is the inspiration for your sobriety, your song and your pure, youthful enjoyment! So what if He is the source of your respect for your parents, your bond with them? Don't you dare, and if you nevertheless are un­afraid, waiting for you are raids and interrogations, similar to the one described in Makniūnai. And what if we applied this rule set by the writer for celebrating birthdays: only family members, only contemporaries, no one younger than the youth, no strangers ~ to evenings at the House of Culture or to those sadly notorius dates with soldiers which the schools arranged under the pretext of "in­ternational education"?

As we see, there is a double standard, and that difference separates our public into two halves treated unequally, not limiting itself to the surface - the driving away of guests at the birthday party.

This year in Jaunimo gratos (Ranks of Youth) nos. 1 and 2, there was a deeper look into the life of Lithuanian punks - from their dyed hair and rivet-studded jackets to their philosophizing and formulas on how to get high on "chemicals" cheaper than liquor. Here, you see, is a social problem of global proportions! And where did all this come from? And why are they like that? But has even one news item in the press mentioned that in Lithuania there are thousands of Catholic youngsters who are living according to positive values, who know how to have a good time without liquor, treasure the folk-songs men­tioned in the article, take an interest in the nation's cultural heritage and guard it, know how to love chastely and establish close-knit, happy families? Has even one sociologist, even one official publication shown any interest in how they got that way, what sources in people give rise to such qualities when the environ­ment is openly amoral and hostile?

No, how can it be? We have a long way to go to the punks, and if anyone takes an interest in us, it will probably be the KGB or participants in a similar raid.

Of course, we do not desire praise from the government. We live this way not for them, but for God. And yet, long ago, we noticed the similarities between vocal viewpoints: a foreign profanity written on the wall flaunts itself for years on a central street, and it does not bother anyone. But let anyone in­scribe "Freedom for religion! Freedom for political prisoners!" that same night not only the surface cement but the bricks will be removed.

On account of these clear differences in treating the problem, one must admit: the Gražulis', in writing their petition (what is the correspondent so angry about), "that believers are persecuted", "terrorized", "where is freedom of conscience?", and not for nothing, it seems, is there so much unease in the eyes of the little school children being interrogated, which Miss Svirbutavičiūtė says she noticed. Miss Svirbutaviči ends her article with praise for a boy very characteristic in atheistic pedagogy, who: "Is a man, since urged by his grandmother to go to church, he jumps out the window." And further, "The children choose their road. Let them pick it independently. Let them choose truths without sidetracks."

Yes, Miss Svirbutavičiūtė, the children you describe have chosen their way - as you yourself noticed - without alcohol, with Lithuanian song, under the supervision of parents. To you and to participants in the raid, it seemed uneven with sidetracks. You suggest they pick another. However, the Tightness of that road - "right through the window" - which you so blithely sug­gest, is doubtful.

And now that we have gotten on the subject of paths, let me finish with the last reel of that fine film by Tengiz Abuladzhe You remember: A lit­tle old lady limps over to the heroine and asks whether this road goes to the shrine. She receives the reply that this is a street named after the dictator who tore down the shrine and it does not lead to any shrine. The little old lady ex­claims in surprise: "Then why is such a road which does not lead to the shrine needed in general?"