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View from Lithuania: Nakba in Three Keywords

May 12, 2018 @ 10:00 am - May 13, 2018 @ 8:00 pm

As part of Palestine On The Thames: Nakba In My Present programme, Giedre Steikunaite will be giving a presentation titled: “View from Lithuania: Nakba in Three Keywords”, please join us and get involved.


‎1948 didn’t start in 1948 in Palestine, nor did it start in 1948 several thousand kilometres away in ‎Lithuania, on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea. The foreign imperial rule, lack of sovereignty, as well ‎as forced exile and continuous denial of the rights of the land’s indigenous inhabitants have been a ‎constant in the history of both Palestine and Lithuania for decades and even centuries. Two small ‎lands by two different seas, two populations not exceeding several million, a catastrophe that ‎culminated in the middle of the 20th century.‎

Pain and suffering cannot and should not be compared or measured against each other. We do not ‎choose our own oppressors. Tragedies live on, later their shadows, then their ghosts. But true ‎solidarity between two peoples of a similar history is possible, working towards the common goal of ‎freedom.‎

In 1948, when Zionist militias were terrorising Palestine’s people in their own homeland, forcing ‎hundreds of thousands into exile, in Soviet-occupied Lithuania USSR officers were putting people ‎on cattle trains and sending them off to Siberia’s hard labour camps. Many never returned, because ‎the occupier didn’t allow them to return. When villages were being emptied of their people in ‎Palestine, villages in Lithuania became silent, too. A week after May 15, the USSR’s Operation ‎Vesna saw almost 40,000 Lithuanians exiled to Siberia. At the same time, inevitably, those who ‎remained started organising resistance. Local guerillas, named “forest brothers” due to their hideouts ‎being mainly located deep inside the country’s vast forests, although badly armed, fought against ‎the invader, assisted by a secret network of supporters, mainly peasants and villagers. Political ‎imprisonment, torture, theft of land, humiliation were a reality for the people of Lithuania, as was ‎collaboration with the enemy, betrayal, and internal fighting – elements that oppression spreads ‎among an occupied population.‎

That is why when I talk about Palestine in Lithuania, I rely on three main keywords: occupation, ‎exile, resistance. Every family in the country had direct experience with either of these and therefore ‎have a strong moral basis for solidarity with the Palestinian people whose Nakba continues to this ‎day.

‎Lithuania’s occupation lasted 50 years. Palestine’s is now 70 years and counting. Yet because of its ‎own history, today’s Lithuania has the ability – and the duty – to understand the true meaning of ‎Nakba. And with understanding comes responsibility.‎

#Palestine #UK #Nakba #15May


May 12, 2018 @ 10:00 am
May 13, 2018 @ 8:00 pm
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