The unexpected presidential veto has temporarily stemmed reforms that could have significantly undercut judicial independence. While the veto may partly demonstrate the value of formal checks and balances, even when the same political group controls all veto players, it may have merely delayed the train of the ‘revolution-by-law’ that could soon sweep presidents of ordinary courts, CSOs and the private media – writes Łukasz Bojarski.
On 7 July 2017 we filed a notification of the possibility of committing an offence prosecuted ex officio by the administrator of the website of the Polish Ku Klux Klan brotherhood. On 28 July the District Prosecutor’s Office Warszawa – Żoliborz instituted investigation regarding this case, analyzing it from the point of view of inciting to hatred by placing on this website the racist content related to an idea of the white race supremacy and fascist symbols.
The Open Republic filed on 26 July 2017 a notification with the prosecutor’s office on the possibility of committing an offence consisting in distribution, via the cover of Gazeta Polska (no. 30 of 26 July 2017) presenting the persons with a different skin color, religion and origin standing along the autopsy tables; this drawing illustrates the feature entitled “The refugees brought terminal diseases”. The picture and the article violate the Polish Penal Code in the part relating to hate speech, i.e. Art. 256 and 257 of PC.
- The picture and the article violate the Polish Penal Code. We are of the opinion that this cover not only offends persons with a different skin color, religion and national or ethnic origin and incites hatred, but also – by its title – promotes the fascist regime relating to the propaganda of the Third Reich and the notorious propaganda poster showing Jews as the carriers of the plague, typhus fever and lice – said Damian Wutke, the secretary of our association in the conversation with Presservice.
On July 14, 2017, in Pennsylvania, Julia Hartwig died – an outstanding poetess, essayist called “the princess of Polish poetry”. Involved in the democratic opposition activities at the time of the communist regime, the member of Polish PEN Club, Polish Writers’ Association, Open Republic, Association against anti-Semitism and Xenophobia. Awarded with many prestigious awards such as Grand Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta, Officer’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta, Golden Gloria Artis Medal, Order of the Officer of the Legion of Honor. Julia Hartwig was also the winner of the prestigious Wisława Szymborska award and of the distinction „The lifework” for all her work in the 12th edition of Norwid Award.
We bid farewell not only to the Mistress of Word, but, first of all, a wonderful person being the moral authority.
On July 8, 2017, next to the Warsaw Kordegarda, a picket for support of an application regarding delegalization of ONR was held. The event was organized by Democratic RP Association, and Open Republic was one of the supporting organizations. On June 29, 2017 the Management Board of the Open Republic wrote a letter of support to the organizers of the picket. During the gathering, Damian Wutke – the secretary of the Management Board of the Open Republic was one of the speakers.
“I am representative of the Open Republic Association against Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia. I am sure that both, for us and for you, Open Republic is not just a name of an association. It is a certain ideal which we aim at. It is embodiment of a society free from prejudice, hatred, violence, a society respecting a fellow man and struggling for his dignity. And in such a society, in this Open Republic, there is no room for existence and activity of the National-Radical Camp [ONR]. This is why we strongly support the initiative of delegalization of the organization, which is founded on prejudice, violence and hatred. The organization, which is more and more visible in the public space, and which should not exist.
Our gathering is not very big, but I believe that there are more of us and there will be even more – the people who do not agree to the victory of hatred; the people, who do not turn around, when evil acts. Because ONR attacks not only the persons with a different skin color, religion, ethnic or national origin or sexual orientation. It attacks all of us. So let’s not forget about solidarity. When they attack gays and lesbians – let’s be with gays and lesbians. When they attack Jews – let’s be with Jews, when they attack refugees- let’s support refugees, and when they attack women – let’s support women.
Let’s simply be decent, because, as Marek Edelman, the last commander of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising used to say: “Delegalization of all nationalist and chauvinist parties and organizations is the issue of our responsibility for the future and image of Poland”.
Paula Sawicka, the Chairwoman of the Program Board of the Open Republic reminds in the interview with Poznań edition of Gazeta Wyborcza about our portal www.zglosnienawisc.otwarta.org: “One may report an incident personally or ask us to do it. Not everything that people report is placed in our database. We try to check the information very carefully, analyze and filter. It is advised to send photos and other materials of the best possible quality. […] And we never publish the unchecked piece of information. Not every incident can be qualified as violation of law or inciting hatred. […] A lot of bad things happen in the public space. Verbal aggression is more and more frequently replaced by physical attacks. And such incidents either meet with indifference or cause a paralyzing fear. It is possible that such phenomena occurred in our society for quite a long time, but for many years we did not notice the power of this phenomenon, because it was not mentioned or opposed”.
Paula also reminds that freedom of speech has its limits: “The limit of my freedom of speech ends where another man’s freedom begins. It is worth remembering, beginning from our close environment. And we should keep to ask ourselves, if, as the decent citizens, we want to live in a world full of aggression and to allow such things to happen next to us”.
71 years ago the pogrom of Jews happened in Kielce. Poles were the murderers of their Jewish neighbors, and this tragic event took place in Poland just liberated from the Nazi occupation.
The events, which are called “the Kielce pogrom”, took place mainly in the building at Planty 7/9, in which approximately 200 persons lived. Besides tenants, there were also offices of Jewish institutions (Jewish Committee, congregation, the kibbutz of Zionist party Ichud etc.). Nevertheless, it was not the only place of tragic events. Pogroms of Jews also occurred in other parts of Kielce, and in the trains passing through the town on that day.
Forty persons were murdered during the pogrom, 35 were wounded.
The Open Republic Association has launched, via naszademokracja.pl website, a campaign “Leave antidiscrimination education at school”.
The growing wave of the racist, xenophobic and homophobic hatred and violence has been going through Poland. Education is one of the most powerful tools thanks to which we can change the world for the better.
Unfortunately, instead of counteracting these phenomena, the Ministry of National Education wants to cancel from the ordinance on school tasks the provision on conducting antidiscrimination activities.
This is why we call on Ms. Minister to bring back in the amendment draft the provision from 2015, which stated: „at school or educational centers the antidiscrimination activities are performed, which involve the whole community of school or educational center”.
“The Open Republic supports application of Demokratyczna RP Association for delegalization of the National Radical Camp. In the state of law, which according to the Constitution is the Republic of Poland, there may be no approval for existence of the organizations, which base in their program and activity on hatred and violence against persons and groups with a different skin color, ethnic or national origin, religion or no religion, sexual orientation or outlook. It should be stressed here that freedom of speech has its limitations – it ends where dignity of another person is violated” – we write in the letter to the organizers of the picket regarding delegalization of ONR, which will take place on July 8 in Warsaw
Last week the Polish public opinion was shocked by the story about emigrant children from Berlin, which participated in the excursion “Following the footsteps of persecution and Holocaust of Jews in Poland”. According to what we heard from the students and the teacher, they were victims of the whole series of hateful acts in Warsaw, Lublin and Łódź, and were brushed aside by the policemen in Lublin. The Polish, German and British media wrote about this. In connection with the above, the Management Board of the Open Republic sent a letter to the Police Chief Commandant, Police Warsaw Commandant, the Attorney of the Police Chief Commandant for Human Rights Protection, and to Warsaw, Łódź and Lublin presidents.