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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Crisis on the border. Photojournalists detained by soldiers near Michałów. The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights writes to the Ministry of National Defense

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In connection with the detention of three photojournalists by soldiers near the border with Belarus, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights turned to the Ministry of National Defense. HFHR lawyers ask, inter alia, “whether it is planned to clarify the circumstances of the incident and, if irregularities are found, to take consequences against those responsible”. The three photojournalists in question are Maciej Moskwa, Martin Divisek and Maciej Nabrdalik.

Press Club Polska informed on Wednesday about “attack on photojournalists”, which took place on Tuesday afternoon in the village of Wiejki, about eight kilometers from the border with Belarus. “A group of people in the uniforms of the Polish Army attacked three photojournalists while they were carrying out their journalistic duties,” we read. The three photojournalists in question are Maciej Moskwa, Martin Divisek and Maciej Nabrdalik.

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The Ministry of National Defense issued a statement on this matter. In it it assured that the soldiers “did not use violence”. “According to the soldiers’ reports, on Tuesday afternoon (…) they noticed three masked people photographing the camp and soldiers” – we read. The Ministry of National Defense claims that the photojournalists had no signs “proving that they are journalists”. “Upon a call to stop taking photos, the gentlemen went to the vehicle and tried to drive away. In the meantime, the relevant services, including the police, were notified. The soldiers were ordered to detain these people for clarification,” the ministry wrote.

After the detention – as the Ministry of National Defense explained – “these persons showed documents confirming their identity, but they did not show press IDs until some time”. “The military do not confirm that before taking the photos, journalists introduced themselves and warned that they would take photos” – we read in the statement.

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General Piotrowski: nobody hit anyone, nobody insulted anyone, nobody jerked anyone

The operational commander of the armed forces, Lieutenant General Tomasz Piotrowskireferring to the case, he said Wednesday the soldiers saw “three men hiding, masked, in dark jackets”.

General Piotrowski on the detention of photojournalists by soldiersTVN24

The general said that the men did not respond to the arrest call, they had no markings. – They don’t want to talk too much, they hide behind slogans that are difficult to understand because they are masked. After disguising them, it turns out that two of them have stubble, which can be perceived differently in conditions of limited visibility – he added. Noting that photojournalists told the soldiers that they were journalists, he replied: – We know perfectly well that in conditions like there – growing tension, like there in the border zone, in an emergency, anyone can say that they are a journalist.

– In this difficult and aggravating situation, a proper arrest is certainly made, because it was assessed by the police. And the fact that someone at the moment says that they have been mauled, that they have been beaten up, absolutely nothing of the kind happened. Nobody hit anyone, nobody insulted anyone, nobody jerked anyone. This was the situation and it is proved by the soldiers whose reports I received and the police memo, stated the operational commander of the armed forces.

The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights sends a letter to the Ministry of National Defense

The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights intervened in the case of the arrest of photojournalists. “Brutal detention of journalists by soldiers near Michałów. We are sending a letter to the Minister of National Defense,” we read in the HFHR’s tweet.

On the organization’s website, it was announced that the HFHR had sent a letter to the head of the Ministry of National Defense asking about the basis for the intervention and why it was not decided to use less severe measures than the use of physical force and handcuffing journalists.

Press release from the HFHR on the detention of journalists

“HFHR lawyers also ask the Minister whether it is planned to clarify the circumstances of the incident and, if irregularities are found, to take consequences against those responsible” – it was written.

“In the letter, we referred to a number of Polish and international standards regarding journalists’ access to events of considerable public interest and the obligations of the state regarding respect for their safety. in a situation where circumstances do not require it, “write further representatives of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights.

Journal of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights to the Ministry of National Defense

“Finally, the HFHR lawyers set up standards regarding the protection of journalistic confidentiality, which could have been violated during the intervention of soldiers. The HFHR is of the opinion that the current, undoubtedly serious, situation on the border cannot be a pretext for such a far-reaching interference with freedom of expression and violence. towards journalists “- we read later in the statement on the HFHR website.

Detained photojournalist: we introduced ourselves, we said we were from the media, from the press

A TVN24 journalist spoke with Maciej Moskva, one of the detained photojournalists.

– We approached the gate of the military camp with the cameras, we wanted to document the presence of the army. We introduced ourselves, we said that we are from the media, from the press. And we just took pictures. We were absolutely outside the state of emergency, far away from its border. We went back to the car and wanted to keep going. We have been arrested. Armed people in the uniforms of the Polish Army stood in front of and behind the car, he reported.

Then a “very aggressive officer” approached the car and, using “very vulgar, primitive language”, ordered the photojournalists to get out of the car. – He was then informed that we are journalists – said Moscow.

Maciej Moskwa on the detention of photojournalists by "armed persons in the uniforms of the Polish Army"

Maciej Moskwa on the detention of photojournalists by “armed persons in the uniforms of the Polish Army”TVN24

This version of the events is confirmed by a recording made by one of the photojournalists during the detention. – Are you getting off, or should I leave you? Get out of the car, fucking right now. Already. Get off right now, you have a minute. F *** a, get out of the car, says the man in a raised voice.

“I’m a journalist,” says one of the reporters. – Get out the f *** – he hears in response. – I’m a journalist, I get out of the car – repeats the photojournalist.

A detained photojournalist: they chased us to the fence, ordered us to undress and keep our hands above our heads

– Armed men chased us to the fence, ordered us to undress, our coats were taken off. We were ordered to keep our hands above our heads. After some time, we were handcuffed with plastic. In my case, they were much too tight. I had to raise my hands up so that my blood could run out of me – said the photographer.

While the men were standing by the fence, the military “searched the contents of the cameras”. – We informed you that they cannot do it, that it is a breach of authority. After some time the police came, we were shackled. The policemen did not identify these people in uniforms. The police also searched our journalistic materials, exceeding their powers, Moscow said in an interview with a TVN24 reporter.

Record of the detention of photojournalists

Record of the detention of photojournalistsTVN24



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