Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Lithuania discriminated against Jews seeking passports

Via The Jewish Chronicle:
An investigation has revealed that Lithuania has discriminated against Jews who applied for passports. 
Data complied by Daniel Lutrin, a South African whose great-grandmother was Lithuanian, showed that between January 2015 and April 2016, 170 Jewish applicants (with either Israeli or Jewish South-African names) had been turned down, versus 110 non-Jewish applicants. There was an even stronger disparity between January 2016 and April 2016, with 90 Jewish and 20 non-Jewish applications rejected.  
Mr Lutrin’s allegations were seen as so incontrovertible that after he made his case, Lithuania’s parliament voted to change part of the country’s citizenship requirements to end the discrimination. 
Over 90 per cent of the South African Jewish community are Litvaks — Jews of Lithuanian origin.  
Mr Lutrin had decided to apply for a Lithuanian passport in 2012 and was told his application was in order and that a final decision would be made within a year. However, a year on he was told that there was a new requirement for citizenship, which affected anyone whose ancestors had left Lithuania between 1919 and 1940.  (...)
“Time and time again, the unsuccessful were overwhelmingly Jewish South Africans or Jewish Israelis.” 
The research compiled by Mr Lutrin was sent in May 2016 to the Lithuanian Consul General in Los Angeles by Grant Gochin, who himself spent years fighting the Lithuanian government to gain citizenship. The resultant publicity — in Lithuania, South Africa and Israel — led to the law change. The new language made it clear Jews who “withdrew” or “fled” and those who “left” were to be treated in the same way.  
Mr Lutrin has since gained a passport. He says things are now “a lot better” for Jews applying for passports.  
A spokesperson for the Lithuanian embassy said: “Since the 2016 amendment came into force, the Lithuanian authorities have made every effort to individually inform every person whose application was unsuccessful between 2010-2015 about the possibility to resubmit their application.”  
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