News from Open Republic

2021/02/23

Declaration of the Polish PEN Club

22 February 2021

Freedom of speech and thought – fundamental human and civil rights – are now threatened in Poland by de facto political and ideological censorship.

Imposing constraints on this freedom has been taking place for some time now byway of small steps, by training journalists, civil servants, activists or teachers prone to bend under pressure how to eagerly embark on censorship. One spectacular example of this eagerness was the recent cancellation of the photographic exhibition of the world-famous photographer Chris Niedenthal in the gallery of the Complex of Arts Schools in Rzeszów. The exhibition was cancelled for political reasons. We are witnessing the return of censorship which deletes people and names – what it is capable of, can be seen in the destruction of Programme III of public Polish Radio, not to mention a number of earlier cases. We see also the return of censorship standing in defence of the propaganda picture of an ideologically infused reality. Mythomania calls for a monopoly in authoritarian fiction.

During the increasingly numerous proceedings, investigations, civil and criminal lawsuits, the blurred hazy concepts of offending religious feelings and offending the Polish nation are becoming tools of ideological censorship. These concepts and criminal sanctions connected with them should be removed immediately from the legal Codes and from court practice. They are not only unclear, randomly applied and the nature of allegations based on them usually are in the form of smears and defamation, but their presence in the legal Codes assigns prosecutors and judges with the duty of propagandists.

2021/02/08

Statement of the Open Republic Association

Open Republic Association against Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia expresses deep concern and protest regarding the trial against professors Barbara Engelking and Jan Grabowski, editors and co-authors of the work NIGHT without an END. Fate of Jews in selected counties of occupied Poland.

The defendants are recognized scholars, who in their works give a close view to the multi-plot and complicated history of the Holocaust of Jews in the territory of occupied Poland – both, heinous and heroic events, e.g. activities of the Righteous. The claimant is a relative of one of the persons, whose actions from the war time – based on the sources researched by the scholars – were described in the book. It was not a clear-cut activity: on the one hand it was help granted to a Jewish woman in her escape from death threatening her from the Nazis, and on the other – suspicions formulated by a witness about handing over to the Germans several dozen Jews hiding in the forest. The authors of the publications are charged with infringement of personal rights of the claimant, violation of the right to memory cult of the dead person and offence against the right to pride and national identity.

The Open Republic Association reminds that the Constitutional Act of the Republic of Poland  guarantees freedom of scientific research. In a democratic state the court cannot be the place of sorting out disputes related to the results of research and interpretation thereof. Scientific publications being the effect of many-year-long work and archival queries may be a starting point for discussions and polemics, but not the subject of court dispute.

The Open Republic Association expresses its respect and appreciation of the work of professors Barbara Engelking and Jan Grabowski.

On behalf of Open Republic Association against Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia

Paula Sawicka – Chairwoman of the Programme Board

 Marek Gumkowski – President of the Board

2021/01/01

102nd Anniversary of Marek Edelman’s Birth

One of the commanders of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, an outstanding heart surgeon, and an activist, Edelman, was born on 1Janury 1919 in Homel (in today’s Belarus).

Let’s remind his words:

“Regardless of who the victim is, we must be on their side. We must shelter them. Hide them in the cellar. And not to be afraid of doing that. In general, we stand against the oppressors.”

2020/12/23

Statement of the Association’s Board regarding the appointment of the Director of E. Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute

The Jewish Historical Institute was founded just after World War II and is the oldest institution in the world whose mission is to conduct research on the Holocaust and the history of Polish Jews. For several dozen years it operated within the framework of the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland. Our main goals were to document the Holocaust and the history of Polish Jews, to build collections, conduct academic research and popularize the findings. These activities were possible because the Institute was always headed by outstanding scholars of Jewish history in Poland, including Bernard Mark, Szymon Datner and Maurycy Horn. It was thanks to their work that a collection was created, which today is used by the researchers and staff of the Institute as well as by visiting scholars from all over the world.

2020/12/10

Human Rights Day

Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December — the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR is a milestone document that proclaims the inalienable rights which everyone is entitled to as a human being – regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

2020/12/02

Paweł Kulig is the laureate of 2020 POLIN Award!

Paweł Kulig has been named the laureate of 2020 POLIN Award Competition. For the past eight years, he has been looking after the New Jewish Cemetery in Łódź. He is also Chair of the Guardians of Remembrance Association whose goal is to preserve the Jewish cultural and historic heritage of the City of Łódź. The laureate receives a financial prize of 20,000 PLN. During the POLIN Award competition finale which was streamed through the POLIN Museum social media, two honourable mentions were presented to Justyna Biernat from Tomaszów Mazowiecki and the Krotochwile Association from the Wielkopolska Region.

2020/11/27

Civic associations against lawless Police acts

The Open Republic Association Against Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia was among the 77 signatories of a declaration against violent suppression by the police of peaceful demonstrations following the Constitutional Tribunal’s politicised ruling limiting access to abortion. For many days thousands of Polish women and men have exercised their freedom of expression and freedom of assembly peacefully protesting against the verdict. The signatories oppose forcefully against the police suppression of the protests and express their solidarity with the protesters defending their rights and freedoms to whom they will offer any possible assistance.

2020/11/20

Children Rights Convention’s 3rd Facilitating Protocol – petition

On the National Children Rights Day, a group of NGO’s (including the Open Republic Association Against Anti-semitism and Xenophobia) appealed to the Senat of the Polish Republic to initiate the ratification of the protocol regulating the procedure of reporting violations of the children rights. The petition’s signatories raise issues such as poor access to psychiatric care, a transport exclusion of children in the rural areas, lack of access to remote learning, insufficient rights’ of children in family courts, or status of children-illegal immigrants.  The signatories believe that Poland’s ratification of the 3rd protocol will strengthen protections offered by the Convention by opening the Polish authorities’ actions to international scrutiny.