“Helsinki Human Rights Foundation, Batory Foundation, Open Republic Association, Civic Network Watchdog, Polish Society of Anti-discrimination Law, Legal Intervention Association, Institute of Public Issues and Civic Education Center Foundation want to turn your attention Mr. President to TVP Wiadomości (at 19.30) of 12 May 2016. A part of the program was devoted to journalists’ invigilation and the parliament speech of Minister Mariusz Kamiński delivered on the previous day. We see the statement by the Ombudsman, and next, the statement by the lawyer of Helsinki Human Rights Foundation. The next sequence shows demonstration of Amnesty International before the seat of the President of the Republic of Poland, which took place in February 2016. This protest concerned the act on the police which increased the scope of uncontrolled invigilation of citizens. During the protest some of those gathered began to shout “Duda to Wawel”, which was immediately halted by the director of Amnesty International” – we read in the letter to Jacek Kurski, the President of TVP.
“We would like to mention that the fragment shown in the television material on the protest before the President’s Palace was not connected with the issue of invigilation of journalists, which was the leading subject of Wiadomości TVP. Illustrating material with the photos of the event which took place several months ago was aimed at discrediting Amnesty International and showing it in a bad light.
This action is very similar to the situation in non-democratic post-soviet countries such as Azerbejdżan or Bielarus, where NGOs are the object of attacks and slanders in the public media, and their activity is presented as anti-government, rebellious or terrorist. As indicated in the report of the Human Rights Commissioner of UNO entitled Human Rights Defenders: Protecting the Right to Defend Human Rights, public media in those countries manipulate with materials in order to discredit the activity of organizations dealing with human rights protection. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe several times mentioned the problem of these slander campaigns in the media against defenders of human rights.”
On May 6, 2016 the Management Board of the Open Republic Association sent a letter to the Prime Minister Beata Szydło, in which it expresses our deep concern regarding the Prime Minister’s Ordinance no.53 of April 27, 2016 published in the „Monitor Polski” (item 413) regarding liquidation, as of June 1, the Council for Counteracting Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and related Intolerance. “We are particularly shocked and outraged by the fact that the decision on liquidation of the Council, not accompanied by any public announcements or explanations, is not, either, accompanied by any information as to the methods that Polish government plans to apply to counteract the wave of racist incidents and xenophobic attacks, the increase of which reported recently the Prosecutor’s Office (…) We expect you, Mrs. Prime Minister, and institutions governed by you to promptly present the steps planned and already taken in this respect.” – we wrote in the letter.
In the word “openness” we find the implicated sense indicating the presence of another man – regardless of his religion, ethnic origin, sex or sexual orientation. Such words as “openness” “tolerance” “multi-culture” remain just slogans if not implemented in action. The goal of “Society for Tolerance” project implemented by the Open Republic Association against Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia from September 2014 to April 2016 was dissemination of the ideas and making more efficient the activities performed by the association since 1999, so, first of all, struggling against all forms of racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and other attitudes harming human dignity. In face of the growing presence of hate speech and aggression caused by racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and other types of intolerance we considered it necessary to take steps condemning this phenomenon and would make both the citizens and the prosecution bodies aware of its great social and moral harmfulness.
The means for accomplishing these goals were particular stages of the project (each point is linked to the detailed description of a given stage):
1. creation and service of the portal www.zglosnienawisc.otwarta.org;
2. monitoring of hate speech and hate acts;
3. disseminating knowledge related to the subject of the project by way of conducting open debates and workshops;
4. conducting legal and social interventions;
5. development, printing and distribution of the collective publication entitled Guidebook for prosecution bodies. Forms of discrimination and methods of combating it;
6.assigning preparation of 30 expert opinions: legal, linguistic and sociological based on information gathered on www.zglosnienawisc.otwarta.org portal.
7. networking with other organizations dealing with counteracting discrimination and cooperation with our Partner – Klamra Foundation.
Today, on April 28, on behalf of the signatories we filed with the registry office of the Office of the President of the Republic of Poland An Appeal related to destruction of the Monument Commemorating the Holocaust of Roma People in Borzęcin Dolny. The Appeal was signed by nearly 100 representatives of science and culture, and numerous NGOs. The members of the Program Board, Management Board and Audit Commission of Open Republic Association are among the signatories.
The meaning of the word “openness” has the implicated sense indicating the presence of another man – regardless of his religion, ethnic origin, sex or sexual orientation. Such words as “openness”, “tolerance” “multi-culture” or “freedom” remain such the slogans if they are not exercised in action. The goal of “Society for Tolerance” project implemented by the Open Republic Association from September 2014 to April 2016 was dissemination of the ideas and activities performed by the Association since 1999, thus, first of all, struggling against all forms of racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and other attitudes violating human dignity.
Paula Sawicka, the long-time President of the Open Republic, and now the Chairwoman of its Program Board, was the guest of “Sterniczki” the program by Robert Kowalski. Commenting the current situation she mentioned the need to activate people to say: “this is bad, I do not like it” and react to hatred, which overflows us. She also spoke about activity of our Association, which monitors the incidents of hate speech through its portal “Zgłoś nienawiść.”
Under „Society for Tolerance” project we commissioned preparation of thirty independent legal/specialist expert opinions, which we attach to notifications we send as support of justifications, with reference to a particular incident or refusal to initiate investigation which are available on www.zglosnienawisc.otwarta.org.
On April 26, 2016 the 10th Public Debate of the Open Republic Association and Arnold Szyfman Polski Theater was held; its partner was also the Polish PEN Club and its title It is worth being decent …i.e. how to keep being decent in indecent world? dedicated to the memory of Władysław Bartoszewski. Panelists were Stanisław Obirek and Monika Płatek. Iwona Smolka was moderator.
About 130 persons were present in the theater and participated in the debate. Transmission on the Internet was watched by 526 persons from all over the world – from Switzerland, Belgium, USA, Canada, Great Britain and SAR.
Our hearts and thoughts are today with Campaign against Homophobia and Lambda Warszawa. We cannot stay indifferent when our friends are victims of increasing attacks. Together, we have for years tried to build the equal, free and colorful Poland for all! Solidarity is our strength, that’s why we guarantee that they will not be left alone and that we will do what we can to have the perpetrators punished. We will not stop our efforts aimed at government’s awareness of the growing wave of violence against social activists and organizations. We are outraged that so far, none of the representatives of the government, especially the Attorney for Equal Treatment, has not clearly condemned the attacks which we have witnessed for about a month.
Open Republic Association
The Croatian Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković recently appointed Zlatko Hasanbegovic as the Minister of Culture. EGAM (European Grassroots Antiracist Movement) which aims to maintain and defend democratic values in Europe, struggling against the cases of social exclusion and promoting equality ideals considered it necessary to take position on this appointment. The Open Republic is one of the signatories of EGAM’s letter.