The following is an English translation of a speech delivered by Sister Nijolė Sadūnaitė, who was awarded the 2018 Freedom Award in Lithuania. She delivered the speech during the festivities before the Seimas (Parliament – transl. note) of the Republic of Lithuania to commemorate the Day of Defenders of Freedom (to commemorate January 13th of 1991 when the Soviets sent their special forces to stop the independence movement in Lithuania – transl. note).
All glory be to Jesus Christ! If God is with us, who can be against us?
First of all, I want to sincerely thank everyone who has gathered here – all extremely honorable people – as well as for the attention that was shown to me and for this very precious acknowledgement.
I was on the side of the truth during the oppressive years of the Soviet occupation, and now I try to remain on the side of the truth in the free Lithuania by seeking truth and justice.
In such a way, I fight for freedom – freedom from lies, from fear, from persecution of those who think differently, from conformism and hypocrisy.
God is the truth.
And the truth delivers us. I would like to quote just a few verses from the Gospel because this is the word of God that strengthened thousands of freedom fighters and those who were in Siberia, when God was our power, strength, and joy.
Here is the Gospel of St. John 3:19-21.
He who does not believe God’s only Son, the judgment of the court is such:
„The light came into the world, but people loved darkness more than light, because their works were evil. Every wicked man hates the light and does not enter into the light, so that his works would not be revealed. But whosoever carries out the truth, he comes to the light, in order to reveal his works completed in God.”
I see a lot of very painful welts and injustice in today’s Lithuania. Please forgive me that during this very precious day for all of us I will share with you not joys, but that which does not give me peace and does not allow wholehearted rejoicing in the freedom of Lithuania. You are probably sensing that I will be talking about the tragic fate of Deimantė Kedytė who was born in free Lithuania, and in which, as in a droplet of water, the situation of justice of Lithuania is reflected. Unfortunately, a very sad situation.
I will never forget the horrific morning of May 17th, 2012 when in the name of the state through 240 armed and masked officials being present, a painfully restrained, screaming, eight-year-old Deimantė Kedytė was taken from her native home where she grew up. And the people who came „armed“ only with the Lithuanian anthem and prayer to guard the girl against destruction (in a way like that near the Seimas on January 13th, 1991 – transl. note) were humiliated, injured, and now already sentenced, and some of them are still being tried.
An extraordinarily esteemed woman, Laima Bloznelytė-Plėšnienė, of whom under oath the late Algirdas Patackas stated here in the Seimas, „This is my word of honor. I have known her for 50 years. I never met in my whole life a better, more noble and more virtuous person. Even if you shoot her, she is not going to lie.“ And she is being dragged through the courts to this very day. She had to leave her work, and she is an oncologist and helped to save the lives of thousands of people. She has been invited for consultation by France and England. She is raising seven children. Her father was a political prisoner – a prisoner of conscience, who served in a labor camp in Magadan for 15 years; he was cared for by her, was sick for a year, and then died. Her mother is 90 years old and was also a medical doctor.
And I am attending those court hearings, and you know Laima in court reminds me one hundred percent of Christ in front of Pilate. And, it is very painful that I can see only five to six, at most 12 people in the courtroom. Why are we so indifferent? Why are we so indifferent to the pain of another human being?
These people are most citizen like, in the same manner as the citizens who stood with bare hands in front of the occupiers’ tanks on the 13th of January (in 1991 – transl. note). These people tried to defend an innocent child, when even the prosecutor stated that, „The girl will leave her native home holding Stankunaite’s hand“ (her biological mother’s hand – transl. note).
We all saw how they carried the girl out with painfully restrained legs.
The president promised to investigate whether violence was actually used against the girl. It seems to me that there has been no answer to that question. Unfortunately.
This is how the witness elimination operation – Deimantė as a witness against the perpetrators – was performed on behalf of the state that was called, „a return of the child to her mother.“ In this way, before the criminal case was resolved, the victim was transferred to the hands of the people against whom she had testified. The courts have all the evidence, and four commissions concluded that the child was molested and that she was not lying and not fantasizing. A three to four-year-old girl would not be able to describe her experiences in such a way, if she did not experience that multiple times.
Following this act of brutal injustice that shook our society, in which took part more officers – 240 – than during the neutralization operation against the terrorist Bin Laden – only 20 were there. And we, society, never have seen the girl again. After all, even those who are sentenced to life in prison can be visited by their relatives, but Deimantė and her grandparents do not have such a right.
I visited Deimantė at her native home in Garliava on multiple occasions, talked and prayed together with her, and with the crowd of people. May Day Mass was held in the evenings, and she tended to lean on me as she sang Mary’s litany without any text. Therefore, I can testify responsibly that the girl felt safe and happy and loved her grandparents and her aunt Neringa. And she was endlessly loved, well taken care of, energetic, outgoing, and had a large group of friends and cousins with whom she played hopscotch, played flute, and so on. Overall, the child was very energetic and took beautiful photos.
She was eight years old. What happened to Deimantė? We do not know even now. It has been almost six years now, when no one who knew her previously, and those with whom she interacted have neither seen, nor heard her.
By the way, there was a little video released to the public immediately after her abduction, which I also saw. The girl appeared to be chemically sedated in that video and looking at her hands she seemed to be asking her mother, “Why do I have eight hands?” The girl’s head was leaning to one side, and she was drooling.
Later, the same Lietuvos Rytas (Lithuanian Morning – news organization – transl. note) that called me a worshiper of terrorism, since I, together with other enlightened Lithuanian citizens, was defending another Lithuanian martyr who was persecuted for many years and later fully acquitted by the Supreme Court – namely Eglė Kusaitė – that same Lietuvos Rytas began to print falsified photos of Deimantė. In this way, it was sought to mislead the part of society who never saw or personally knew Deimantė and to imply that she was healthy and alert.
Until now, no official, including the person who was the Commissioner-General of the Police (Supreme Police Officer during the removal operation of the girl and who is currently Prime Minister of Lithuania – transl. note), has accepted any responsibility for the girl who supposedly is being protected by the state, but in actuality is fully isolated. At this time, she should be capable to interact on social media, but unfortunately the Internet is silent.
During all those five-and-a-half years after the girl’s abduction until now, citizens concerned about her destiny have been working to awaken our society and are demanding the truth from government officials and institutions about Deimantė’s destiny. During the first six months we used to gather every day, then once a week during a few years in a row, and later until now we gather on the 17th day of every month with big banners asking for truth near the President’s residency, near the municipalities, and other government buildings in Vilnius, Kaunas, and Klaipeda.
However, it appears everything has been in vain. Officials who are responsible for the matter do not pay attention. They either continue to write formal and empty responses, or are silent. It is the same way with the great media that calls itself free.
Regarding this multi-year civil campaign without analogues in Lithuanian history, there has been a total information blockade carried out. There has been a silent accord in the great media when we ask for truth, and „Where is Deimantė?“ – during our civil protest actions, and for all these years they have not written about or showed us on TV, or talked about our civil protest on the radio.
So, I want to ask you, „What is this?“ Is this the freedom for which we did not seek to spare our lives and sacrificed for on January 13th, 1991? However, there will not be any problem to find the angry statements of influential journalists who never saw the girl, or went to Garliava to speak with her or with her family and are full of ignorance and hatred with derogatory comments about „violet fog making our eyes hazy“ (violet is the color associated with supporters of Deimantė and her family – transl. note) and about how the “Freedom Award ended up near fences of Garliava.” (a derogatory comment about supporters that compares them to a bum on the street – transl. note).
They say, „Sadūnaitė deserves criminal prosecution. Send her to prison, and do not give an award to her! What a horror! What a wolf!“ God, give them health.
The suggestion is that we are fighting against Lithuania’s independence, and we are preparing a coup?!
I would go to prison with joy, but only for a free Lithuania.
I take this opportunity because I am heard by her Excellency the President, many honorable members of the Seimas, members of the Government, law enforcement representatives, and I would also like to draw your attention to the fact that Lithuania ratified the International Convention for the Protection of Individuals Against Forced Disappearance.
In the very first article of this Convention, I quote:
„1. No one is supposed to be become a victim of forcible disappearance.
2. No extraordinary circumstances, even in the case of war situation or the threat of war, internal political instability, or any other state of emergency can justify forced disappearance.”
Therefore, I am asking you, isn’t the destiny of Deimantė Kedytė a forced disappearance?
Isn’t it reasonable to consider that the girl’s disappearance is forcible, if she was publically and brutally taken by the state’s officials, and our society does not have any information about her for the past five-and-a-half years. We do not even know whether Deimantė Kedytė is alive.
Please someone respond whether Lithuania adhered to or violated this Convention. If so, who is in charge and can answer whether Deimantė Kedytė has not been made to disappear?
I am close to finishing. This is the last page.
Oh, good God!
Today, on January 13th, on the Defenders of Freedom Day and the day of the Freedom Award, there is nothing more important to me as to find out the answer to the question which the state has been putting all its efforts into concealing from the public. I am not the only one who has been waiting for the answer to this heart-wrenching question. Therefore, as I have an opportunity to stand in this high Seimas’ tribune – for the first and the last time – I am directly addressing you, the highest officials of the state:
Mr. Prime Minister! Sitting behind me …
Mr. Speaker of the Seimas!
I ask all of you that before February 16th – the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Lithuanian State – that you publically answer me and our society by providing indisputable evidence – that Deimantė Kedytė whom we all loved so much, and whom we watched over, and who should turn 14 on February 19th – that she is healthy and alive.
But if she by your will on behalf of the state was torn from her loved ones on May 17th, 2012 and arranged to be guarded – be it far away from us Lord, even my tongue does not turn around to utter those words – and is possibly, is probably dead, killed, then I ask you to immediately publicly acknowledge that and to take responsibility for that. Most importantly, if these allegations are not just ungrounded speculations by grieving people, and such a terrible misfortunate actually happened, tell us where her tomb is, so that all who loved her, together with her grandparents who are being persecuted until now with nine criminal cases against them – that we all with other relatives and people who sought to protect her as well as the people who care about freedom, that we all would be able to go there, to place some flowers, bow down, pray together, to mourn, and to apologize that we were incapable to save you, Deimantė. God, forgive us.
In closing my speech, I don’t know how all of you who are listening me now, but I must openly and with huge heartache admit to you that I will certainly not be able to celebrate and enjoy the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Lithuania, if I do not get an honest response to this question. Please forgive me.
The state and society that is deaf and blind to the lamentations and suffering of its innocent people, and did not see the tears of the child, did not hear her scream for help, and is celebrating and dancing on the tombs of the children that it traumatized and ruined – this state has no future. God, forgive us!
I want to finish with the poem written by the honorable priest Robertas Grigas: “Girl’s Tear.” He was there almost daily with the other six priests. He wrote this poem three months after the girl’s abduction.
„I put on the scales
A little tear of little Deimantė -
And the sophisticated President’s speeches -
The tear weighed them down as though they were a thistle’s fluff.
And I put on the scales
Little Girl’s Desperate Scream -
And the insults of the Seimas, and the justice keepers’ incantations -
The tear weighted them down as ashes and scattered them by winds.
And I put on the scales
The little child’s helplessness, fear, horror -
And Olympians’ gold, silver, and bronze -
And the grievous injustice done to the innocent child weighed them down and rebuffed them like dust.
Lithuania was in the tear of the girl.
And in the speeches, in the courts, and in the fireworks -
Only the betrayal of the child by NOTHINGNESS.
Amen! Alleluia! God, be merciful to us!
God loves us and is waiting for us. He became a human being and died for us on the cross. And gave us a hint for what we will be sentenced in Eternity. Those who believe and those who do not. And no difference will be given to race:
„I was hungry – you fed me.
I was naked – you clothed me.
I was thirsty – you gave a cup of water.
I was sick – you visited.
I was a traveler – you provided a shelter.
I was a prisoner – you came and stretched out your hand.
Come here to eternal joy!”
He says: „Lord, I did not see you there”.
„And when you stretched out your hand to the little one, to the stranger who was petitioning you, you helped me.”
And vice versa.
„You did not help – go away from me to the eternal suffering together with the devil and his angels.“
God, protect us that none of us would end up there. God, please provide that we all would end up in heaven glorifying Him for his mercy!
Thank you! Forgive me, it looks like I might be found guilty of having a long tongue (meaning speaking too long – transl. note).
(Some applause for N. Sadūnaitė, winner of the Freedom Award 2018).
The Lithuanian President embraces her while passing by and says something in her ear. Sister Nijolė Sadūnaitė sprints to the tribune again and says, „It’s not disconnected yet! Her Excellency the President has just stated to me, ‘I never knew and do not know now where Deimantė Kedytė is.” „Who knows then?!” Nijolė Sadūnaitė continues saying something else, but the microphone is already disconnected…