On 10 July 2019, the European People’s Party (EPP) decided to nominate Mr. Balázs Hidvéghi, elected in Hungary under the Fidesz header, for the role of Vice-Chair of the Committee on civil liberties, justice and home affairs of the European Parliament. While the Chair and three Vice-chairs of the Committee were successfully elected, the decision regarding Mr. Hidvéghi’s application for the remaining Vice-Chair position was postponed.
Mr. Hidvéghi was one of the chief communicators under Mr. Orban’s government in the past years. He has been particularly vocal during public smear campaigns in Hungary, specifically targeting political opposition, civic NGOs and critical journalists.
Having also in mind the suspension of the Fidesz membership from EPP in the run-up to EU elections, the undersigned Civil Society Organisations regret the choice made by the EPP group.
The Open Republic Association Against Xenophobia and anti-Semitism wrote a letter to Torun-based activist, Monika Niedźwiecka, who has been a target of a campaign of hate following her protest against anti-LGBT accents in her local church’s Easter display. In the letter, the Open Republic expresses its solidarity with Niedźwiecka’s stance and her actions in support of tolerance and respect of each person as well as marginalised groups and individuals. ” We are full of admiration for your moral position and your bravery. We are disgusted and angered by the people behind a campaign conducted against you.” writes the Open Republic
Professor Karol Modzelewski, who died on 28 April was a great Pole, an heir to the best traditions of the disobedient intelligentsia. He considered his stance a logical consequence of his values, beginning with respect of every human being. Out of his 81 years, almost nine were stolen from him with his imprisonment by the totalitarian regime.
He was among the first to support us in keeping alive the memory of Marek Edelman.
We already miss Karol Modzelewski, his wisdom, modesty, his benevolence and his unshaken belief that the right path is the one of serving others.
Signed: “The Year of Marek Edelman” association and “The Open Republic”
We the undersigned, teachers and directors of the Primary School number 1 in Pruchnik wish to express our deep sorrow and regret concerning the recent events [the Jew effigy beating], particularly since some of our pupils and their parents have participated in them.
We wish to express our disapproval of such behaviour as the shouting of anti-Jewish slogans and beating of the effigy – writes the school’s director, Magdalena Długosz.
Members of the Open Republic, the Antifascist Warsaw, the Antifascist coalition, the Red History, the Student Antifascist Committee, the Syrena, the Civic Initiatives’ Platform, the TN Tęcza and the choir of the Jacek Kuroń secondary school took part in the second independent commemorations of the Ghetto UprisTheing anniversary on 19 April.
“It is with outrage and a great deal of anxiety that we have received the news about events on April 19 in Pruchnik [in the south-east of Poland]. An apparent 17th-century ritual involving beating of an effigy of a Jew said to symbolise Judas. The ceremony accompanied by aggressive cries of the participants can only serve to consolidate the centuries-old anti-Semitic folklore and igniting the flame of xenophobic hatred.”
The Open Republic’s letter to the local parish priest, to the mayor of Pruchnik and the heads of all local educational establishments, was signed by the Head of Programme Board, Paula Sawicka and by the Association’s Chair, Marek Gumkowski
– Marek Edelman didn’t take part in the official events either -says Sawicka. – We were with him then, and we continue this tradition after his death. Sawicka explains that ever since the Polish president, Andrzej Duda began to attend the official commemorations, the accompanying security measures made people uncomfortable. According to Sawicka, the unofficial commemorations are a protest against the authorities’ apparent high tolerance of incidents of anti-Semitism, racism and homophobia.:
– Politicians themselves often make hateful and discriminatory pronouncements. We hear that the Nazi salute, so beloved by the Polish ultra-nationalists is just a Roman salute and that the swastika is just a symbol of happiness.
– We hear from the ruling party’s politicians about the “need for deportations of atheists, the Eastern Orthodox and the Muslims who will not subscribe to the values considered important in Poland – adds Sawicka.
It is this context that makes the official celebrations of the Ghetto Uprising’s anniversary, organised by the same authorities who tolerate such statements, disturbing and unacceptable – concludes the Chair of the Open Republic’s Programme Board.
On 18 and 19 April, hundreds of people came to Bankowy Square to witness the virtual restoration of the Great Synagogue. The artist Gabi von Seltzman projected the image of the building destroyed by the Nazi’s after the fall of Ghetto Uprising on the office skyscraper standing on the same spot. The soundtrack included an archive recording of the Synagogue’s cantor, Gershon Sirota and the poem “Bashert” read by its author Irena Klepfisz, a daughter of one of the Uprising’s fighter and by Paula Sawicka, of the Open Republic. The project was made possible by the generous support of Andrzej and Małgorzata Rojek, Irena Kronhill Pletka and the Kronhill Pletka Foundation.