(June 08, 2021) The Save Vilna Coalition representing the cause of 15 Jewish leading Jewish authorities and organizations together with 44 Human Rights organizations, served notice on Turto Bankas that it is in violation of the law. A letter to the CEO of Turto Bankas, Mr Mindaugas Sinkevičius stated that the bank is using false and distorted information in an attempt to push an illegal agenda.
The letter specified: "The statements that Turto Bankas have expressed on their respective webpages are untrue, a distortion of facts and insulting to the Jewish community. The misrepresentations of Jewish law by Turto Bankas are a direct attack on Judaism. These are being conducted under the guise that Turto Bankas wishes to enhance Jewish values and protect Jewish cemeteries. Turto Bankas has not acted in good faith. The international Jewish community feels betrayed and is offended by these deliberate distortions. The distribution of the false information on the website is the result of efforts by Turto Bankas to deliberately harm the Jewish community, to solicit public support for its Vilnius Congress Center proposal, using information which is false, incorrect and a distortion of the truth, to fraudulently propagate its agenda. No member of the Lithuanian Jewish community would wish to be part of such an initiative. They are not. Turto Bankas' goal is to build the international conference center on a Jewish cemetery, with unethical intention to cajole victims of the Jewish community who are not familiar with its unbecoming ethical conduct, to be part of its plan, using information that is outdated, fictitious, untrue, devoid of the truth, regardless of the consequential desecration, irrespective of the religious suppression that Turto Bankas is enacting against the Jewish community, preventing community members from protecting cemeteries, executed with total disregard for consideration to human rights violations and without consideration for Lithuanian and International law."
The Law on the Provision of information to the Public 2 July 1996 - No I-1418 (As last amended on 23 December 2015 - No XII-2239), Vilnius, Article 15, titled “Right of Reply” instructs that the perpetrator of the false information rectify the situation.
The letter penned by chairman of the Save Vilna Coalition Mr. Dov Fried has requested, that Turto Bankas remove all inaccurate and false information from its website and that in accordance with Article 15 of the respective law, publish the following revised Press Release which accurately reflects the turn of events as they occurred:
REVISED TURTO BANKAS PRESS RELEASE
The Vilnius City District Court decided not to accept the claim of the preventive lawsuit of the descendants, which sought to prevent the construction of the Vilnius Congress Center.
After examining the case, the court did not establish that there was sufficient cause to prevent the development. This does not necessarily mean that the development is legal.
It has been brought to Turto Bankas’ attention that according to Jewish law a cemetery cannot be used for any purpose other than as a resting place for the deceased. This ruling is the unanimous decision of leading Jewish authorities. There are no dissenting opinions. Accordingly, Turto Bankas appreciates that the proposed development, including the blueprint for a museum must be scrapped.
Turto Bankas comprehends that the Jewish community is interested in preserving the graves and Holy Site in its entirety. Memorializing the cemetery, can never justify or compensate for any level of desecration as defined by Jewish law.
Despite the court ruling that there are no skeletal remains in the Sports Palace, Turto Bankas understands that there is significant evidence to show that there is. This has been confirmed by the Honorable Minister of Justice, Evelina Dobrovolka. Further, this fact is also verified on the Turto Bankas website which states that there are indeed "underground tunnels” beneath the building, where graves exist and which still “have survived to the present day.”
Also, as previously confirmed on the Turto Bankas website, the chairperson of the Lithuanian Jewish community, Ms. Faina Kukliansky has stated that she will not agree to any procedure that violates Jewish law. In accordance with these sentiments, Ms. Kukliansky and the Lithuanian Jewish community are opposed to the Vilnius Congress Center. There are no Rabbinical authorities which have authorized the Vilnius Congress Center.
Further, we note that the Vilnius Jewish community has vehemently opposed the proposed development, since the idea was initially hatched, back in 1915.
The Committee for Protecting Jewish Cemeteries in Europe (CPJCE), previously did make attempts to accommodate and approve the Vilnius Congress Center proposal within the framework of Jewish law. Those initiatives failed. After extensive efforts to do so, it became clear that it is not possible, under any circumstances.
The CPJCE has been barred from representing any Jewish community by a leading rabbinical court and by leading Jewish authorities. Accordingly, the CPJCE has been forbidden to participate in the Vilnius Congress initiative. The CPJCE has accepted this ruling.
Turto Bankas understands that because the development is a fundamental violation of Jewish law and culture, there are no other Jewish Rabbis that would ever agree to be part of such development. The respective ruling is the unanimous decision of all legitimate Jewish authorities.
The Ministry of Culture will work with legitimate Jewish authorities to restore and aesthetically upgrade the cemetery.
For more information, Please visit https://www.savevilna.org/about