On Saturday, six months have passed since Andrzej Poczobut was arrested in Belarus. Polish independent media show solidarity with the journalist. “Let us not let the public and politicians forget about the Poles detained without sentence by the Belarusian regime. Let the Polish media show that we do not forget about our colleague” reads the appeal for the journalist’s release.
Andżelika Borys and Andrzej Poczobut are in custody in Żodzina under severe conditions. The authorities accuse them of “inciting hatred”. On Thursday, six months have passed since the arrest of Andżelika Borys, head of the Union of Poles in Belarus. On Saturday, six months have passed since Andrzej Poczobut was arrested.
Many Polish independent media joined the Grand Press Foundation’s solidarity campaign, which they honored at the end of August Andrzej Poczobut, correspondent of “Gazeta Wyborcza” in Belarus, with the Medal of Freedom of Speech. The editorial offices of TVN24 and “Fakt” TVN, Wirtualna Polska, “Polityka”, Radio Zet, Newsweek, “Rzeczpospolita”, OKO.Press, Onet, “Tygodnik” Podhalański “, many other local newspapers and the” Press “magazine and the Press portal. The editorial office of “Gazeta Wyborcza” has also announced its actions.
Below we present the content of the appeal for the release of Andrzej Poczobut # UwolnićPoczobut:
“His last tweet before his arrest was:” Polish parties should have a common, long-term policy of supporting Polishness, which is threatened with repressions in Belarus. This is a matter beyond divisions. ”
Six months have passed since the journalist Andrzej Poczobut was arrested in Grodno, Belarus. This is a good occasion for a loud protest: we demand the release of Andrzej Poczobut. We demand the release of Andżelika Borys and all Polish and Belarusian journalists and activists. Lukashenka’s regime cannot triumph.
Andrzej Poczobut – rebellious, for years exposed himself to the Belarusian authorities with articles unfavorable to the regime. For allegedly “inciting ethnic hatred and rehabilitating Nazism” he faces twelve years in prison.
In the overcrowded prison number 8 in the city of Żodzino near Minsk, where he is now staying, the authorities limit his access to heart medications and the possibility of contact with loved ones. He also underwent severe coronavirus infection there.
When the Belarusian dictator offered him freedom in exchange for leaving Belarus, Andrzej Poczobut boldly refused. He never stopped believing that Belarus would become a country where – as he wrote – “criticism will not be considered slander and the truth will not be slander”.
That is why we demand from Polish and European politicians to address this issue to the authorities of the European Union, to put pressure on Belarus and its protector and patron – Russia.
Let us do our best to work beyond political divisions to free our journalist and activists of the Union of Poles in Belarus.
May this weekend – September 25-26, 2021, six months after the journalist’s imprisonment – be an opportunity to recall Andrzej Poczobut’s heroic struggle. Let the Polish media show that we do not forget about our colleague. Because – as Konstanty Gebert wrote – “You are also sitting for us. We still have all the freedoms that the Lord defends: words, choices, identities. We also have them because you and thousands of people like you show a price in Belarus, what you pay to collect them “.
Let us unite in Poland under the slogan # UwolnićPoczobuta.
From Saturday, information about Andrzej Poczobuta will be displayed on 300 screens in 27 towns.
Case deemed politically motivated
The criminal case against Andżelika Borys and Andrzej Poczobut was considered politically motivated. The Polish government is demanding their release.
President of the Republic of Poland, Andrzej Duda during his speech at the 76th session of the UN General AssemblyOn Wednesday night in Polish time, he argued for the rights of Belarusian oppositionists and activists of the Polish minority. He demanded the release of all political prisoners in Belarus.
The Belarusian authorities are setting conditions. Andrzej Poczobut’s wife reported in September that he had already received a letter three times from the politician Andrei Waskrasieński, who promoted “amnesty”, who urged him to write a “secret letter” to Alyaksandr Lukashenka asking for a pardon. A Polish activist and journalist did not agree to write it. Probably Andżelika Borys also refuses to do so.
Health problems of Borys and Poczobut
Both Poczobut and Boris had health problems while in custody. Poczobut suffered a coronavirus infection and his old gastric ailments intensified. The head of the Union of Poles in Belarus complained of heart problems and dental problems. It is not possible to verify their current health.
Boris’ relatives do not speak to the media. Andrzej Poczobut’s wife told PAP many times that she communicated with her husband mainly through letters. She did not get the investigator’s consent to meet Andrzej.
Arrested members of the Union of Poles in Belarus
Criminal proceedings were instituted against the activists under the article of the Criminal Code of Belarus (Art. 130 p. 3), which referred to “actions aimed at inciting hostility on the grounds of race, nationality, religion or other social background”.
The Belarusian prosecutor’s office interpreted the activities of ZPB activists as “rehabilitation of Nazism”. The cited article is punishable by imprisonment from five to 12 years.
The ZPB is the largest organization of the Polish minority in Belarus. In 2005, the authorities in Minsk revoked her registration. The statutory goals of the Union of Poles in Belarus include cultivating Polishness, promoting Polish culture, learning the Polish language and fostering Polish memorial sites.
This is one of thousands of criminal cases launched in Belarus following last year’s protests against the rigging of the presidential elections.
Main photo source: Forum