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Vilnius, part two

Uzupis Republic

Uzupis is a small, artsy and bohemian district in the city of Vilnius. In 1997, the residents of Uzupis declared themselves a republic with their own president, currency and constitution. They were only half-joking when they did this and so that makes for quite an interesting story. They are all huge art proponents. Their president himself is a poet, musician and film director. And funny enough, their independence day (also called Uzupis day) is on April 1st and is a huge party day (like the halloween in the US). When you enter the Uzupis republic, you are faced with six boards that list the constitution in different languages.

Uzupis Republic

 

Their constitution is super funny, super real and has 41 declarations. It tells you something about the character of its people. They are simple, no nonsense and love to live life.  I have listed it below…Its long, but very well worth a read. You will have a good laugh.

  1.  Man has the right to live by the River Vilnelė, while the River Vilnelė has the right to flow by man.
  2. Man has the right to hot water, heating in winter and a tiled roof.
  3. Man has the right to die, but it is not his obligation.
  4. Man has the right to make mistakes.
  5. Man has the right to individuality.
  6. Man has the right to love.
  7. Man has the right to be not loved, but not necessarily.
  8. Man has the right not to be distinguished and famous.
  9. Man has the right to be idle.
  10. Man has the right to love and take care of a cat.
  11. Man has the right to look after a dog till one or the other dies.
  12. A dog has the right to be a dog.
  13. A cat is not obliged to love its master, but it must help him in hardness.
  14. Sometimes man has the right to be unaware of his duties.
  15. Man has the right to be in doubt, but this is not his duty.
  16. Man has the right to be happy.
  17. Man has the right to be unhappy.
  18. Man has the right to be silent.
  19. Man has the right to have faith.
  20. No one has the right to violence.
  21. Man has the right to realize his negligibility and magnificence.
  22. Man has the right to encroach upon eternity.
  23. Man has the right to understand.
  24. Man has the right to understand nothing.
  25. Man has the right to be of various nationalities.
  26. Man has the right to celebrate or not to celebrate his birthday.
  27. Man shall remember his name.
  28. Man may share what he possesses.
  29. Man cannot share what he does not possess.
  30. Man has the right to have brothers, sisters and parents.
  31. Man is capable of independence.
  32. Man is responsible for his freedom.
  33. Man has the right to cry.
  34. Man has the right to be misunderstood.
  35. Man has no right to make another person guilty.
  36. Man has the right to be personal.
  37. Man has the right to have no rights.
  38. Man has the right not to be afraid.
  39. Do not defeat.
  40. Do not fight back.
  41. Do not surrender.

KGB Museum

Officially called the “Museum of Genocide Victims”, this building was a KGB prison. People that spoke out against the communist regime and prisoners of war, were held, tortured and sent to their death in this prison. On the outside walls, are inscribed the names of Lithuanians who were led to their death here. Notice how young many of them were.

KGB Museum  KGB Museum

 

As you would expect, the life of a prisoner here was nothing less than hell. When he first arrived he was sent to the Boksai ( the box), where he would sit for three hours while his paperwork was taken care of.

Boksai

Boksai

He was then sent to the search cell, where he was thoroughly searched. He had to take of his clothes, every button was cut off and all personal belongings were confiscated.

Search Cell

Search cell

Then they were sent to their cell. 15-20 people were placed in this cell at a time. There was hardly any room to change your body position in such a cramped place.

Postwar cell

Prison postwar cell

The worst of them all was the torture cell. Its walls were padded, so while the prisoner was tortured, his screams would not be heard by the rest of the prison.

Special Cell

Torture cell

More of the prison photos are in the lithuania set on flickr with the “kgb museum” tag.

You walk out of this building with a sick feeling in your stomach. On my way out, I asked the lithuanian girl who was selling tickets, if she had any animosity towards russians today. She responded by saying that it was only in 1991 that they gained independence, it was not too long ago. She felt it was too early to forget the brutal past. However, she did have some Russian friends in her hometown of Alytus and did not hold them responsible for what their ancestors had done.

Today this building serves as the Lithuanian Court of Appeal. Life has a funny way of setting things right. For over half a century, this building was witness to the cruelest injustice. Today, it is handing out justice to its citizens.

 

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