14 women, 75-thousand supporters, one goal: justice in Poland

By Miko Czerwiński, Amnesty Poland campaigner Poland,

I remember clearly the moment when I met each of the 14 women.

14 brave women. 14 women raising their voices against hate.

I felt their energy radiating, the passion with which they told their story, the strength that inspires them and others to act for a better future for all.

Krystyna, Beata, Elżbieta, Zofia, Iza, Maria, Agnieszka, Kinga, Kasia, Monika, Lucyna, Kasia, Ewa and Agnieszka talk about themselves with unusual modesty, but their names must be remembered.

I know that when I join a protest or attend a debate I will meet at least one of them, because they believe in selfless solidarity, that each one of us should have our human rights respected.

That moment when they shout through a megaphone, that “women’s rights are human rights”, or hold an enormous rainbow flag to protest homophobia, or spread symbolic white roses on the path of hate groups.

These are the moments when they show us that we must stand in solidarity with others, with victims of hatred and human rights violations. 14 brave women do this every day. Are we doing the same for them?

In November 2017, they were attacked after unfurling a banner saying ‘Stop Fascism’ during The Independence Day March in Warsaw, where hundreds of far-right protesters had gathered calling for things like a ‘white Poland’.

Authorities initially closed the investigation into the attack with an absurd justification, but after the women appealed, in February a judge ordered the investigation into the violence to be re-opened. However, adding insult to injury, soon after the attack, the women were themselves charged and fined for obstructing a lawful assembly.

Are we supporting their case? Are we protesting that they were kicked and cursed at? Are we objecting that they were fined simply for protesting peacefully against hate?

Yes, we are.

75 thousand people have heard of their case and joined the campaign, signing petitions, writing letters of solidarity and turning out to support them at court hearings.

They have support not just across Europe, but also as far away as Australia and South Korea. New letters and emails arrive every day to support them. A postcard from Prague, an admiration letter from Belgrade, a photo from a solidarity protest in London. People from different corners of the world show that they will not be indifferent to violence, that each person has the right to peacefully protest and that standing up to hatred is not a crime.

“I am full of admiration thinking about your bravery. I am proud that there are people that want to stand up to hatred and fight for a more accepting Poland. My dream is to become as brave and fierce, in my goals, as you are. Let’s fight for respect and dignity for all! Stop hate, stop fascism, stop intolerance! Thank you for all you do!"
- Wiktoria, 15 years old

Every day I pass these messages to them and I see how important they are.

Each word of support empowers them more. It helps them to combat the hate they experience.

The last time we saw each other I gave them a lot of postcards and letters. They said that it gives them strength, while crying with emotion. It gives them strength not to give up, to fight for themselves but also for everyone in Poland, Europe and the world. They make it their priority to answer at least some of those solidarity messages. They are impressed by the kindness others have shown. and they want to repay it.

“Every expression of solidarity, every post, every photo with a hashtag, every message on Messenger, I mean even the smallest activity means a lot. Because, thanks to this, we know that the things we do have sense and a goal and we see that people support us when we fight for justice. It gives this positive energy, and this positively influences us to act further, not to surrender. It is so nice when somebody from another part of the world devotes their valuable time to express solidarity.”

- Izabela, one of the 14 women.

Join us and show your solidarity with the 14 women in Poland. Together we can make Polish authorities listen as we demand that they respect and uphold everybody’s human rights.

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