21 Feb 2018

One of Solidarity's legendary leaders detained by police -- again

In June 2017, Władysław Frasyniuk protested in the streets and was removed by policemen. Eight months later, they showed up at his house at 6am and transported him to the prosecutors office, in a replay of events that took place under communism.

Ada Petriczko
Ada Petriczko NewsMavens, Poland
Source: Gazeta Wyborcza
One of Solidarity's legendary leaders
 detained by police -- again - NewsMavens

Why this story matters:

Frasyniuk -- one of the heros of the Solidarity movement which resisted communism in the 1980s -- has consistently criticized the politics of the current government. He believes that Poland is steering away from democracy.

This is why last year, together with activists from the group Citizens of the Republic of Poland (Obywatele RP), he obstructed a pro-government gathering by sitting down in a street in central Warsaw. The protest was against a newly adapted bill which hinders public gatherings.

Later he refused to show up at the prosecutor's office, publicly announcing that he refuses to answer to a justice institution politically controlled by the state.

He thus left no choice to the police but to turn up at his house. Yet handcuffing seems like a step too far. It is a display of power that sends a signal to other protesters and activists who oppose the government and, unlike Frasyniuk, are not well known and hence more exposed to mistreatment.

Especially as the maximum punishment for his alleged offence is 3 years -- a lot, considering the minor nature of his offence. With the prosecution and the courts controlled by the government, it will become more and more difficult for political activists to execute their rights to demonstration and resist.

Details from the story:

  • Władysław Frasyniuk is one of the leaders of the Solidarity movement. During communist times, he spent 3,5 years in prison for political activism.
  • For his achievements in fighting that regime and building democracy in Poland, he has received a top state medal (Krzyż Wielki Odrodzenia Polski) from the late President Lech Kaczyński, the twin brother of Jarosław Kaczyński, who is the leader of the current ruling party.
  • Frasyniuk will be charged for the violation of personal inviolability of a public functionary. He faces a fine, custody or up to 3 years in prison.
  • More protesters and activists find themselves in a similar situation. 472 people have been prosecuted, 226 of them are already sentenced.Frasyniuk has announced that he will show up in court but will not be discouraged from fighting for democracy and the rule of law.
  • He claims that apart from the handcuffing, the policemen were very polite to him and seemed abashed by the incident. As he reports, at the end they told him: "We're sorry about the situation. It was nonetheless nice to meet you."
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