Please stop the destruction of Jewish cemeteries in Belarus
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Two Belarusian towns plan to turn old Jewish cemeteries into apartment complexes and refuse to identify historical and actual boundaries of these cemeteries.
In Gomel the city council overlooked the evocative old Jewish cemetery by giving permission (permit № 456 issued February 2016) to build two apartment buildings on Sozhskaya Street.
On December 26th, 2016, excavation began for the foundation of a 10-story building on Pushkin Street in Mozyr city per permit №720 issued June 2015 by the Mozyr Regional Executive Committee. Construction workers will have no choice but to consign the bones to city dumps as it's impossible to pack the entire cemetery into sacks.
The construction of a 10-story apartment building within the boundaries of old Jewish cemetery in Mozyr began three months after the Governments of the United States and Belarus signed an agreement on the preservation of cultural properties aimed to protect cemeteries, memorials, historic sites, places of worship, and archives related to the Holocaust. It also violates Belarusian law regarding the proper care of cemeteries (Article 23 of Law 237 from January, 8 2015) which prohibits construction of any kind of buildings on cemetery land, except for memorials and religious buildings.
Before the war, about 1 million Jews lived in Belarus and 800,000 of them died in the Holocaust. Since then many thousands of Jewish graves have been threatened by construction on cemetery land. The US-based World Association of Belarusian Jews would like to believe that the demolition of an early 20 century synagogue in Luban, which used to bear a memorial tablet to one of the most famous rabbis of the 20th century Moshe Feinstein and destruction of Jewish cemeteries in Grodno and Mozyr is the result of misunderstanding by the local authorities and has nothing to do with the state policy.
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