Belarusian human rights watchdogs call on authorities to release Polish activists
Members of the Union of Poles in Belarus - Andżelika Borys, Andrzej Poczobut, Irena Biernacka, Maria Tiszkowska and Anna Paniszewa have been recognised by Belarusian human rights organisations as political prisoners. The watchdogs also called on Belarusian authorities for their immediate release.
The Belarusian human rights community issued a joint statement regarding the detained Polish activists.
"The criminal prosecution of Andżelika Borys, Andrzej Poczobut, Maria Tiszkowska, Anna Paniszewa and Irena Biernacka is of apparent politically motivated nature, as it is aimed at creating the image of the enemy, both embodied by the Polish state as a whole and the Polish national minority, in particular, and therefore considers them as political prisoners" - belsat.eu wrote on its website in English.
Among the signatories of the resolution adopted on Wednesday by the independent human rights organisations in Belarus are: Viasna Human Rights Centre, Belarusian Helsinki Committee, Belarusian Association of Journalists, and other organisations.
"Belarusian human rights activists call on the authorities of the Republic of Belarus to immediately release the representatives of the Union of Poles in Belarus, drop criminal charges against them, and stop pressure and persecution against members of the Polish national minority" - reads the English version of the resolution.
Borys, Poczobut, Biernacka and Tiszkowska are all members of the Union of Poles in Belarus. Anna Paniszewa is a Polish activist from Brest, and the headmaster of the local Polish school. All of them have been charged by the prosecutor under Art. 130-3 of the Criminal Code (deliberate actions aimed at inciting national and religious hatred according to national, religious, language, other social affiliation, as well as through justifying Nazism, which were committed by a group of persons). The prosecution claims their activity was relevant to"‘the rehabilitation of Nazism and justifying the genocide of the Belarusian people". Such offense carries a prison sentence up to 12 years.
The human rights watchdogs also stressed in the statement that "it should be noted that these actions of the authorities are taking place against the background of anti-Polish propaganda on state TV, in which Poland is described as an aggressor, which allegedly has, among other things, territorial claims to the Republic of Belarus".
"Mimicking the worst Stalinist traditions, the aggressive anti-Polish state propaganda causes serious concern, as it carries negative consequences for the citizens of the Republic of Belarus of Polish nationality and clearly does not promote the policy of good neighborhood and trust between the two historically close nations" - reads the statement.
"Of course, we must remember and speak about the difficult periods of our history, including for the purpose of interethnic reconciliation, rather than incitement to mutual hostility and suspicion, in order to prevent xenophobia and discrimination against various groups in society, including the inadmissibility of persecution of dissent" - the Belarusian activist groups added.
The Union of Poles in Belarus is the largest Polish minority organisation. In 2005, authorities in Minsk revoked its registration. The statutory goals of the union include cultivating Polishness, promoting Polish culture, teaching Polish language, preserving memorial sites.
Źródło: TVN24 News in English, PAP, belsat.eu
Źródło zdjęcia głównego: Tomasz Gzell/PAP