Protect women fighting hate in Poland
On 11 November 2017, 14 brave Polish women were attacked during The Independence Day March in Warsaw. Their peaceful demonstration against hate caused fury among marchers who beat them and left several of the women with injuries, bruises and cuts.
Polish authorities failed to protect the women. Instead they are now punishing them for their actions and tolerating their attackers with absurd justifications.
The Independence Day March in Warsaw is an annual event attracting also far-right and nationalist groups. Many demonstrators were holding flares, throwing firecrackers, shouting and displaying xenophobic slogans such as “white Poland”, and “Europe will be white or deserted”.
Last year, during the march, 14 brave women decided to speak out against the hatred on display, and brought to the march a banner saying “Fascism Stop”. Minutes after they displayed it, they were attacked. Video footage shows people kicking, spitting and screaming at them. One woman lost consciousness and required medical help.
“They first pulled away our banner, then started tearing our clothes and kicking us. I was kicked several times in my back,” said Elzbieta, one of the activists. .
Authorities decided to close the investigation of the attack against the women with an absurd justification. Adding insult to injury, the women were charged and found guilty of obstructing a lawful assembly.
The measures taken by the authorities are deeply worrying. Fines, prosecution and lack of protection by police pose a direct threat on people’s right to protest and have a chilling effect on anyone who wishes to express their views or criticize the government.
Let’s show that we stand with these women. Add your voice to their fight for a fair and just Poland, where everyone can express their views and protest peacefully.
Send an email to Minister of Justice and Minister of Interior and tell them to ensure the 14 women are not punished for peacefully protesting and their attackers are brought to justice.
Freedom of Expression is protected by Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.