On April 16, 2016 ONR organized in Białystok celebrations of the 82nd anniversary of the establishment of the organization. A holy mess took place in the metropolitan cathedral and about 400 persons marched in the streets of the city. In the opinion of the District Prosecutor’s Office in Białystok priest Jacek Międlar did not incite to hatred in the homily delivered in the cathedral, in which he called the national-catholic radicalism “a chemo for Poland, which suffers from malicious tumor”. And added: “Zero tolerance for Poland and Poles suffering from malicious tumor. Zero tolerance for this tumor. This tumor requires chemotherapy (…) and uncompromising national-catholic radicalism is such chemo”.
After a month-long clearing procedure the Regional Prosecutor’s Office for Białystok-Południe instituted an officio investigation. It included two notifications on suspected offense filed by the Open Republic Association against Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia and Deputy Joanna Scheuring – Wielgus from Modern Party.
The issue of discontinuation of investigation was commented in Radio TOK Fm by Paula Sawicka – the Chairwoman of the Program Board of our Association.
On September 16, Viktor Grotowicz asks in Gazeta Wyborcza “what will happen when the court rejects application for delegalization. Such risk always occurs, we are never certain that the court will support our arguments. Moreover, it happened that Polish courts surprised us with a failure to notice the drastic anti-Semitic or racist motives of hateful acts. But does this mean that one should cease pursuing the rights of victims in the courts? (…) Grotowicz is also afraid that the members of delegalized organization “will go underground” and this will make this organization more attractive”.
Paula Sawicka – the Chairwoman of the Program Board of our Association and Aleksandra Gliszczyńska – Grabias – member of the Board wrote a polemic text on delegalization. They write: “We agree with Grotowicz that “the strong condemnation of these dangerous extremist tendencies by political authorities is essential”. However, we do not agree with the thesis that delegalization will not solve the problem in any way, and we end up by asking: is it better not to take any steps, refuse trust in the courts, and allow poisoning the minds and souls?”.
In connection with the growing number of the recent incidents of physical attacks of the racist and xenophobic character in Poland, an initiative occurred to write a letter to representatives of the state authorities and religious authorities. The letter addressed to the President of Poland Andrzej Duda, to the Prime Minister Beata Szydło, the Speaker of the Parliament Marek Kuchciński, Primate of Poland Archbishop Wojciech Polak and the Chairman of the Polish Ecumenic Council bishop Jerzy Samiec, was signed by its initiators – the poet and translator Jakub Ekier, Management Board of the Open Republic and the Chairwoman of the Program Board of the Association.
Within less than a week, members of the Program Board also signed the letter and the Honorary Chairman of the Program Board – Professor Jerzy Jedlicki. Among the signatories there are 21 NGOs and informal groups and 341 individuals – writers, translators, scientists, artists, directors. All of them want everybody to feel at home in Poland!
Following a series of violations of law by the members of the National Radical Camp [ONR] the Civic Platform decided to suggest its delegalization as an organization promoting fascism and inciting to hatred motivated by skin color, nationality or religion.
It is worth reminding that Marek Edelman, one of the commanders of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and activist of anti-Communist opposition during communist rule, and an outstanding doctor, as early as in 1992 mentioned to the then government of Poland the danger connected with activity of extremely rightist and nationalistic organizations.
European Network of Antiracist Movements (EGAM), the member of which is the Open Republic, initiated in March an open letter of Euro-deputies on genocide, in which they undertake to prevent and struggle against negating this dramatic phenomenon.
Our Association took steps aimed at mobilizing Polish deputies, senators and Euro-deputies to sign this appeal. We sent letters with this request to all parliamentary clubs, to the members of Human Rights Commission and to the secretariats of the parties which are responsible for servicing Euro-deputies. Appeal was signed by 75 signatories from 31 countries, of which 56 Euro-deputies from 20 countries and 119 deputies from 24 countries. From all Polish deputies and Euro-deputies, only four persons signed this letter! They are: Euro-deputies Professor Danuta Huebner, Michał Boni and deputies Marcin Święcicki and Jan Klawiter
– [The new law] may cause total self-censorship. And, next – penalization of scientific research – said Doctor Elżbieta Janicka in Robert Kowalski’s program Sterniczki in Krytyka Polityczna. The member of the Program Board of our Association, researcher from the Slavic Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the author of the book Festung Warschau commented in this way acceptance by the Polish government of the draft amendment of the act on the National Memory Institute.
The draft prepared by the Ministry of Justice stipulates that “making the Polish nation or the Polish state responsible (or co-responsible) for the Nazi crimes committed by the Third Reich or other crimes against peace, humanity and war crimes – will be punished with a fine or imprisonment up to 3 years”.
The solutions prescribed in this draft are to „be a reaction to the public use and dissemination of such phrases as “Polish death camps”, “Polish extermination camps” or “Polish concentration camps”. Investigation will be instituted en officio by IPN prosecutor, and verdicts in such cases will be made available to general public.
Paula Sawicka – the Chairwoman of the Program Board of our Association and Piotr Godzisz from Lambda Warszawa Association were the guests of the program Okiem rozumu in Public Medium. They talked with Marcin Małecki about the reasons of such flow of hate in the Internet, how to struggle against it, and that hate harms people in real life. Paula Sawicka reminded about our portal www.zglosnienawisc.otwarta.org, through which one can report hateful comments and events in the Internet and in the public space.
Informal coalition of Polish NGOs developed an alternative report on observance in Poland of the International Pact of Civic and Political Rights. According to the procedure, it will be analyzed at 118th session of the Human Rights Committee of UN. The work of the coalition, which included Federation for Women and Family Planning, TUS Foundation, Trans – Fuzja Foundation, Open Republic Association, Campaign against Homophobia, and KARAT coalition, was coordinated by the Polish Society of Anti-discrimination Law.
A group of teachers, including Robert Szuchta, a member of the Program Board of our Association, initiated an open letter against Teachers’ open letter against manipulating the recent history of Poland. This letter is yet another protest against statements by Minister Anna Zalewska and president of IPN Dr. Jarosław Szarek. Everyone can suport this initiative on www.petycjeonline.com.
On July 26 2016 the court in Łódź punished with a fine the printer, who broke the law (Art. 138 of the Offence Code) by refusing the organization acting for equal treatment of LGBT persons the service of printing. The verdict of the court was challenged by the Minister of Justice and The Prosecutor General Zbigniew Ziobro, who published a statement in which he stated as follows: “[Courts] are supposed to guard the rights and freedoms of citizens, including freedom of business activity, and not to impose them any constraint. No ideological arguments justify violation of these fundamental rules”. He also stated that the organization representing LGBT persons has a privileged position.
On behalf of the members of the Open Republic Association against Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia we express our firm protest against challenging autonomy of the courts by representative of executive power body, who should be the guard of legality in our country and not a false interpreter of the provisions of law and Constitution of RP.
Open Republic acts for human rights and open society free from any prejudice, respecting dignity and freedoms of all citizens. We protest against authorization (expressed by the Minister of Justice) discrimination because of sexual orientation which is contrary to the Polish Constitutional Act. We protest against the minister of the Polish government calling equality, respect, non-discrimination and tolerance an “ideology”. We refuse consent for discrimination of anyone for any reasons. The Polish law does not allow for discrimination which the printer from Łódź committed and nothing justifies such conduct. It is not true, either, that LGBT organizations enjoy a privileged position in Poland. It is quite opposite. The growing number of incidents shows that LGBT persons and organizations which represent them are objects of violence.
The Management Board of the Open Republic Association against anti-Semitism and Xenophobia