Anniversary of the defence of freedom of Lithuania solemnly marked by the Seimas
Press release, 14 January 2019
Photos by Džoja Gunda Barysaitė, Office of the Seimas
On Sunday, 13 January 2019, the solemn commemoration of the 28th anniversary of the Day of the Defenders of Freedom of Lithuania and the ceremony of awarding the Freedom Prize took place in the Hall of the Act of 11 March of the Seimas.
When speaking at the solemn commemoration, Viktoras Pranckietis, Speaker of the Seimas, stressed that freedom defenders sacrificed their lives for their Homeland and the opportunity to build one’s own state.
‘Thank you for your bravery and courage and for your love, hope and faith that were imprinted on our minds during these days and nights to be passed on to our children and grandchildren. The sacrifice of 13 January taught our children that blood and passion was the price of freedom,’ said the Speaker of the Seimas.
Mr Pranckietis also said that, having joined the OECD while celebrating the Centenary of its statehood, Lithuania proved belonging to a club of successful states and keeping to the path of progress.
‘Today we enjoy support and have more ambition and vigour. Let us look forward to both the present and future of the modern Lithuania. We can consciously build our future with dignity and in peace, but not in full calm,’ said the Speaker of the Seimas.
He was also supported by Kristijonas Vizbaras, youth representative and co-founder of the high-tech undertaking Brolis Semiconductors. ‘We compete on an equal footing already with all the developed countries in the world; and our GDP per capita is converging towards those of the old EU Member States, which are the world’s richest economies. Today, we are able to develop high added value technologies and businesses on the basis of the former as well as offer interesting and competitive jobs in the most developed markets in foreign countries and attract their talents to work in Lithuanian companies. We are equal today,’ said Mr Vizbaras.
Mr Vizbaras was surprised by the emotions running high on dual citizenship. ‘For me, Lithuanian citizenship is a privilege that cannot be rated. Freedom and a privilege of citizenship granted by freedom do not mean per se material wellbeing or comfortable life. This privilege offers an opportunity for ambition, creation, free thinking and speaking, and earning through fair means.
Kęstutis Bredelis, Vilnius University teacher injured at the Lithuanian Radio and Television Committee, said that at the annual bonfires on the eve of January 13 we could once again make us certain that the memory of that day was relevant and alive. ‘Annually, on the Day of the Defenders of Freedom, we recall the idealism that led us towards the ultimate outcome – our state. Back then, 28 years ago, we had a chance to experience the exceptionally high level of mobilisation, the shared sense of unity, the power of freedom and honour to defend this all. I am very proud that my children also understand that freedom as an ultimate value means a commitment,’ he said.
This year, the Freedom Prize 2018 was awarded to the group of former partisans, members of the Movement of the Struggle for Freedom of Lithuania: Jonas Abukauskas, Vytautas Balsys, Jonas Čeponis, Bronislovas Juospaitis, Juozas Jakavonis, Jonas Kadžionis, and Juozas Mocius.
When congratulating the group of former partisans awarded with the Freedom Prize, Ms Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė, MP and Chairperson of the Freedom Prize Commission, stressed the contribution of the anti-Soviet fighters to the final liberation of Lithuania. ‘Yes, they were ordinary people, but their strong spirit has brought them glory. They represent the courageous, free and victorious Lithuania. They symbolise victory that was finally secured by the defenders of freedom on 13 January 1991,’ she said.
Jonas Kadžionis, a co-winner of the Freedom Prize 2018, spoke on behalf of the group and recalled that ‘the godless Bolshevik occupation brought tragic repercussions for Lithuania. It destroyed the body and soul of the nation. It demolished crosses, national monuments, and shrines. Lithuania, though a small nation, fought back and led an unprecedented decade-long armed fight against the brutal, dismissive and evil empire.’
On the night of 13 January 1991, Loreta Asanavičiūtė, Virginijus Druskis, Darius Gerbutavičius, Rolandas Jankauskas, Rimantas Juknevičius, Alvydas Kanapinskas, Algimantas Petras Kavoliukas, Vidas Maciulevičius, Titas Masiulis, Alvydas Matulka, Apolinaras Juozas Povilaitis, Ignas Šimulionis, and Vytautas Vaitkus died when defending the TV Tower and the building of the Lithuanian Radio and Television Committee. Vytautas Koncevičius and Stasys Mačiulskas died later in February and April, respectively, as the result of their injuries.
Saulė Eglė Trembo, Chief Specialist, Press Office, Information and Communication Department, tel. +370 5 239 6203, e-mail: [email protected]