23 December 2020

Statement by the Jewish Community of the Republic of Moldova related to the repeated acts of vandalism at the Jewish cemetery in Chisinau

Statement by the Jewish Community of the Republic of Moldova related to the repeated acts of vandalism at the Jewish cemetery in Chisinau

Last week, on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, acts of vandalism were committed at the Chisinau Jewish cemetery. 42 gravestones were destroyed and around 30 painted with swastikas and other desecrating symbols.

The inspection carried out this afternoon, proved that on the night of 1 November, the vandals returned and new destruction appeared. Broken tombstones, mutilated photographs, gravestones painted with desecrating symbols – this is how the monument of history and architecture of national importance, included in the Register of Monuments of the Republic of Moldova protected by the state and approved by the Decision of the Parliament No. 1531-XII of June 22, 1993 (No. 189) looks today.

It should be reminded that in 2018, within the framework of the project for the preservation of the Jewish cultural and historical heritage, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research of the Republic of Moldova, in whose property the cemetery was transferred as part of the National Museum of Jewish History in Moldova, which exists only on paper, began the works on the territorial enhancement. These actions resulted in about a hundred gravestones that were destroyed, with some that cannot be restored and repaired (including the gravestones of the victims of the Kishinev Pogrom). The Jewish Community has repeatedly requested the state authorities a concept for rehabilitation and security of the cemetery, as well as an architectural project for the preservation of the site. Despite this, no effective measures were taken to resolve the existing and aggravating problems, and the cemetery continued to collapse and degrade.

In connection with these events, the President of the Jewish Community of the Republic of Moldova Alexander Bilinkis made a statement:

The Jewish Community comes with a second statement after the first reaction published on 31 October in connection with the situation at the Jewish cemetery. Vandalism at the Jewish cemetery is not a new phenomenon, but its growing scale that we have witnessed these days has caused serious concerns, outrage and pain.

Further inaction will result in the destruction of the Jewish cemetery. The short-term measures that we expect from the state authorities are immediate protection of the cemetery from physical attacks, an assessment of the damage caused and the restoration of destroyed and desecrated monuments. These steps have to be followed by targeted measures, coordinated with the Jewish community, aimed at the preservation of this historical and architectural monument of national importance, which is included in the Register of Monuments of the Republic of Moldova protected by the state.

We ask for an investigation of the misappropriation of funds allocated for the rehabilitation of the cemetery, starting with 2018, as reported to law enforcement agencies and the Prosecutor General’s Office, as well as the punishment of the criminals who committed those acts of vandalism.”

Jewish Community of the Republic of Moldova