Lithuania: City Halts Excavation at Mass Grave Site

Following concerns raised by the Jewish community and an appeal by Lithuania’s Chief Rabbi, authorities in the northern town of Šiauliai are halting excavation of human remains at a Holocaust-era mass grave site that was discovered last week during road construction.

“The municipality of the city of Šiauliai affirms … no digging work will take place until the appropriate respect is guaranteed for the human remains of the people murdered and buried in the mass grave,”  Martynas Šiurkus, the deputy director of the municipal administration of the city, told a press conference Wednesday.

The Baltic News Service reported that Šiurkus said the decision was made to show respect for “the customs and traditions of all ethnic groups.”

 Lithuanian Jewish Community chair Faina Kukliansky welcomed the decision.

“In consideration of a request by the Jewish community, the government of the city of Šiauliai, Lithuania has shelved plans to move human remains discovered during road construction,” she said in a statement issued Thursday on the Lithuanian Jewish Community web site.  “The Šiauliai municipality has given assurances no earth moving work will be performed until due respect is guaranteed for the mortal remains of the people murdered and buried in the mass grave.”

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