In a climate heavily impregnated with threats of war, the Polish ‘justice’ system has just condemned four communist cadres to prison terms and fines. International solidarity is growing, especially in France.
On 8 June of 2010 an amendment to Article 256 of the Criminal Code came into force in Poland, provoking an outcry in progressive circles. It proposed to punish ” whomsoever shall, with the aim of propagandising, produce, import, buy, stock, transport or send objects bearing symbols … or comprising communist symbols”.
Thenceforth, to put up a red flag bearing the hammer and sickle or wearing a T-shirt with Che Guevara’s portrait on it along the banks of the Vistula river were liable to 2 years’ imprisonment. Both Donald Tusk’s ‘liberal’ right and the Kaczinski brothers’ Euro-sceptic right are as one as far as this anti-communist effort is concerned.
This repression is necessitated by the unemployment of the young (obliged to exile themselves in the UK if they want to satisfy the basic necessities of life), the degradation of health and housing provision and growing inequality – so much loss of social benefits as a result of 20 years of capitalist restoration. Still, on 19 July 2011, the Constitutional Court declared this particular provision illegal as being contrary to freedom of speech.
Nevertheless, subsection 1 of Article 256 of the Criminal Code remains in force. Today any person can still be liable to conviction if he ” publicly [conducts] propaganda in favour of a fascist, or other totalitarian system, and appeals to hatred based on differences of nationality, ethnicity, race, or religion”. Those found guilty can be “fined, subjected to restrictions or imprisoned for up to 2 years”.
It is on the basis of this law that at first instance, the court at Dabrowa Gomicza sentenced on 31 March four cadres of the Polish Communist Party to 9 months in prison or to community service on top of heavy fines. This punishment was imposed without any trial taking place, on the basis merely of an accusation, as is permitted by the legislation.
In 2013 a complaint was issued by Bartosz Kownacki, a conservative deputy of PIS (Prawo I Sprawiedliwosc, which [believe it or not] means Law and Justice. Nevertheless, the judicial official approached refused to have anything to do with it, says the Polish Communist Party. However, the case was revived as soon as the National-Catholic conservatives came to power last autumn.
Thus members of the Editorial Committee of Brzask (Dawn), the PCP’s newspaper, have been accused of having “published content directly linked to ideas that are communist, Marxist and Leninist, in publications which are accessible on the internet site www.kompol.org , which, in the context of historical experience, is contrary to democratic values”….
“We are said to be guilty of having promoted totalitarian ideas”, said Beata Karon, one of the PCP’s leaders, indignantly, who is forbidden for example to celebrate the October Revolution of 1917 or to praise the advantages of People’s Poland (1944-1989). These proscriptions are contrary to the spirit of the Polish Constitution which, theoretically, recognises a right to freedom of thought and the expression of opinion. Moreover, the PCP inspired by Marxism-Leninism is a legal party registered since 2002.
Another decision being implemented west of the Oder (as well as in other countries of Central Europe, the Ukraine and Macedonia) as part of a vast anti-communist and anti-Soviet campaign, includes Polish members of parliament last April adopting a law aiming to ” forbid the promotion of communism“. Thus the ” Institution for National Remembrance has created a register and demands of the local authorities that they destroy monuments honouring Soviet soldiers and others connected with communism “, say the PCP.
This measure is an insult to the place where these combatants sacrificed themselves for the sake of the Poles, whom Hitler considered to be untermenschen, to prevent them becoming slaves of the Nazis. 600,000 Red Army soldiers fell in order to secure freedom of Poland from occupation by Nazi Germany after September 1939.
“All opposition to war must be silenced”
Monika Karbowsky has been exiled in France since the beginning of the 1990s after being barred from studying at Warsaw University because of her anti-capitalist and feminist convictions. She considered these attacks to be part of “preparations for war against Russia” envisaged by the US and NATO, which is its armed wing in Europe.
According to her, these attacks on democratic freedoms are aimed at “silencing all opposition by terrorising the population”. Monika Karbowska cites also by means of proof the arrest on 16 May of Mateusz Piskorski. He is the head of an organisation called Zmiana (Change) which is opposed to the NATO presence and works for the union of the Slavic people and the establishment of friendly relations with Russia.
Under the fallacious pretext of espionage for the benefit of Russia, this leader who stands for sovereignty and independence was ” thrown into prison. He was kept there secretly for a month. His family had no news of him for three weeks. Today he remains in administrative detention, although he has not been tried. He has no access to a lawyer. It is basic human rights that are being violated here ,” says Monika Karbowska. Trade unionists, militant cadres and other supporters of an alternative world are also hobbled in this way.
Also ” the organisers of the Wroclaw social forum last March also received threatening calls from the political police. It’s absolutely illegal. If the police have anything against us, let them call us and set out what they are. Instead they are threatening us that we will end up in prison if we invite cadres from the Donbas! It’s 25 years since they opened this cycle of repression. It has led to the ultra-liberalisation and Americanisation of Poland. Today we’re back to repression because America wants war”, she continued.
Appeal for solidarity
Of the 4 people convicted, “three are members of the Editorial Committee of Brzask and the fourth is running our website”, explains Beata Karon. They are demanding the right to be heard by means of “due process” and of course we have appealed against their conviction. The appeal will be heard by the Katowice regional court in Upper Silesia at a date that has not yet been determined. Bearing this in mind, the PCP is asking for solidarity demonstrations to take place in large numbers in front of the diplomatic premises of Poland abroad.