A woman, serving in Lithuania's National Defence Volunteer Forces was arrested today for assaulting a singer from South Africa in the very heart of the Lithuanian capital. Berneen, who became popular in Lithuania after participating in various TV shows, was attacked in Vilnius by a group of thugs more than a week ago. The 22-year-old singer was attacked with fists, called "nigger" and recalls being beaten with a belt buckle by the female attacker.
Lithuanian media quotes unofficial sources claiming that 22-year-old Violeta Iljinych admitted to attacking Berneen, but denies racism as the reason for the assault.
Berneen said this was the first time she ever experienced a racist attack and she would suspend her musical career in Lithuania but would not leave the country. "You cannot escape such people because they exist everywhere. I do not plan to run from somebody calling me a "nigger", said Berneen, who had been living in this Baltic state for nine months.
Although the music Berneen is performing wouldn't be my cup of tea, I agree with our president Valdas Adamkus, who has called the assault "great shame to Lithuania". I know it is just an individual case, yet still... shame.
Lithuanians should get used to the fact that while they were behind the Iron curtain there were many people of all colours behind it.
While I think the fact that Berneen is black helped her gain a petit celebrity status in Lithuania (and we have more examples of the so called "exotic" celebrities in Lithuania), beating up a girl besides one of the most visited tourists attractions because of her skin is degrading. Even more humiliating is the fact that although the assault happened at around 8 pm in such a popular place, no witnesses seem to be mentioned apart the girl who was walking with Berneen. Shameful silence.