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Polish American Congress
Washington Metropolitan Area Division

 

For Immediate Release
(po polsku)

Washington DC, February 6, 2008 - At an extraordinary General Membership meeting on February 5, 2008, the Washington Metropolitan Area Division of the Polish American Congress passed the following resolution:

Concern About Recent Events in Poland

The Polish American Congress, Washington Metropolitan Division, notes the significant support of American Polonia for the liberation of Poland from Soviet domination and expresses concern over recent developments that seem to indicate an erosion of freedom in Poland. Several recent events appear to be evidence that some political forces may wish to glorify the communist period, hamper transparency and the rule of law, limit religious freedom, and muzzle the media. Such actions harm Poland's standing in West and require an immediate response by the government of Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and by the Polish Head of State, President Lech Kaczynski.

Among the worrisome events reported are:

  • Appointment of former communist Marek Borowski to chair the Sejm committee for liaison with Polish communities abroad;
  • Orders by the Minister of Foreign Affairs restricting Polish diplomats' contact with Polonia and Polonian organizations (in one such case, Polish diplomats withdrew their participation in the 150th anniversary celebration of a blacklisted organization);
  • Return of portraits of communist Ministers of Education (including Henryk Jablonski, who repressed student protests in 1968) to a place of honor in the Ministry of Education;
  • Non-disbursement by the Minister of Higher Education of EU funds previously awarded to over 30 institutions of higher learning (including the Catholic University of Lublin and the Higher School of Public and Media Culture in Toruñ), even though this action strikes a severe blow that can undermine these schools financially (this decision directly targets independent Catholic colleges and universities);
  • Implementation of strict limits on journalists' access to the Polish Parliament;
  • Calls by a well-known Member of the Sejm, who belongs to the governing Civic Platform, for this party to "finish off" a noted Polish priest that he views as a political opponent;
  • The unexplained removal of Poland's largest-circulation Catholic daily from the newspapers offered to passengers on Poland's national airline.

In light of the above, we urge both Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Polish President Lech Kaczynski to investigate immediately these events and to ensure that Poland's hard-won freedom will not be undermined. In particular, funding to KUL and other institutions of higher learning needs to be restored, harassment of the media and journalists ended, and attempts to minimize the crimes of communism stopped. Polish freedom, a long-term accomplishment for all Poles, is too valuable to be diluted or squandered for short-sighted, temporary political purposes.

For information, contact:
Thaddeus Mirecki, pacwashmetro@pacwashmetrodiv.org