Today marks the beginning of the Strefa Wolnego Słowa (Free Speech Zone – ed.) campaign – sending letters to inform about the threat to democracy and human rights in Poland. Below is a form through which you can send an email in English to Members of the European Parliament, EU Commissioners, international organizations, and editorial offices of popular press titles in the EU and USA.
TO SEND A MESSAGE TO MEMBERS OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, FOREIGN EDITORIAL OFFICES, AND INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONS, DOWNLOAD AND OPEN THE TWO ATTACHMENTS BELOW:
NOTE! The above method requires having an installed email program (a so-called email client, e.g., Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird, Mailbird, eM Client, or Windows Mail).
If you don’t have an email program, you can send the email manually. Create a new email, copy the text of the appeal from the ATTACHMENT, and then paste the list of recipients from the attachment below:
The success of the campaign will largely depend on our Readers! And you have proven many times already that you can always be counted on when the well-being of Poland is at stake.
Appeal regarding the threat to democracy and human rights in Poland
Three months ago, parliamentary elections were held in Poland, in which a coalition of parties advocating for the improvement of democratic standards and the restoration of the allegedly endangered rule of law came to power. However, within a few weeks, not only were there attacks on democratic state institutions, and many basic principles of the Polish Constitution were violated, but there was also a radical threat to freedom of speech. The first political prisoners have emerged. Institutional and increasingly physical violence is replacing the debate. Politicians, the judiciary, and even private businesses are being intimidated.
After years of communism, Poland struggled to rebuild its democratic institutions, casting off the yoke of the totalitarian past imposed by Moscow’s occupiers. Despite significant economic progress, changes in some areas were slow and not without serious mistakes, especially in the judiciary. To this day, individuals responsible for the repression during the martial law of the communist regime still sit in the courts, despite their advanced age.
Criticism of the ongoing changes united parties that recently assumed power in Poland. However, instead of improving democratic standards, we are witnessing an attack on democratic state institutions and a dangerous threat to freedom of speech.
The new government’s first decision was the forcible takeover of public media. According to Polish law, these media outlets should be managed by government-independent institutions, with specified terms outlined by Polish law. However, individuals appointed by the government disrupted the signal of the main news television channel, and, with the help of hired private security personnel, forcibly removed the legal boards of the media outlets. They were not allowed to return to work even after court decisions declared the government’s actions illegal.
Hundreds of journalists are unable to work, and dozens have already been dismissed. The ruling coalition’s camp also organizes attacks on private media critical of its actions, using familiar mechanisms of defamation and intimidation seen in authoritarian regimes.
At the beginning of the year, the police stormed the presidential palace, arresting two members of the parliament without the knowledge and consent of the president, who were persecuted for fighting corruption. Both parliamentarians have undertaken a hunger strike, and their lives are in danger.
These arrests would not have been possible without the government rejecting the decision of the Polish Constitutional Court, which had previously deemed the actions against the members of the parliament illegal. A similar decision was made by the chamber of the Supreme Court designated for this purpose by law, and both parliamentarians were pardoned by the president.
Unfortunately, the will of neither of these key institutions for Polish democracy has been respected. The Speaker of the Sejm, representing the government majority, ordered the trial to be held in an unauthorized chamber of the Supreme Court, the only chamber still occupied by individuals responsible for the repression during the martial law of 1981.
A significant number of prosecutors and judges refuse to succumb to pressure from the new government, leading to further unlawful acts. The leadership of the prosecutor’s office was completely unlawfully stripped of power, contrary to the law. The Minister of Justice is attempting to obstruct the actions of independent prosecutors seeking to investigate allegations against the new government.
There are serious signs of intimidation of private businesses as well, especially those that could be associated with initiatives unfavourable to the government. The independence of the Central Bank is under threat, and decisions of the Polish Constitutional Court are completely ignored.
For many people in Poland and around the world, it is shocking that politicians who came to power with slogans of improving Polish democracy and restoring the rule of law are implementing standards reminiscent of those seen today in Belarus or Russia.
Poland is heading in a dangerous direction, jeopardizing the most basic civil rights, and undermining democratic institutions. Such actions cannot be accepted in the name of any political plan. These actions must be met with the opposition of the international public opinion.