Andrzej Pisalnik, a journalist and an activist of the Union of Poles in Belarus (ZPB), was summoned to the prosecutor's office in Grodno, eastern Belarus on Tuesday, where he was warned that he should not speak about “persecution of the Polish minority.” Criminal proceedings are pending against the ZPB authorities.
The activist explained that he had been suggested that his comments might be interpreted as “incitement to national hatred.”
Mr Pisalnik is the head of the Znadniemna.pl website, published by ZPB. Recently, he published information on criminal proceedings instituted against the leaders of this organisation - Andżelika Borys, Andrzej Poczobut, Irena Biernacka and Maria Tiszkowska, and other actions taken by the Belarusian authorities towards the Polish minority. He also made statements to the foreign media.
Among others, Andrzej Poczobut, a Polish journalist and activist living in Belarus, was arrested on March 25, 2021, on a charge of “inciting hatred” reported an independent Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ).
Criminal proceedings were instituted against four ZPB activists under the article of the Criminal Code of Belarus, which referred to “deliberate actions, connections aimed at inciting racial, national, religious or other social hostility.”
The prosecutor's office interprets the activities of ZPB activists as “rehabilitation of Nazism.” The cited article is punishable by imprisonment from 5 to 12 years.
Ms Borys, Ms Biernacka, Mr Poczobut and Ms Tiszkowska are held in the Waladarka jail in Minsk, the capital of Belarus. The proceedings in the same article are pending against a Polish activist from Brest, Anna Paniszewa.
Belarusian human rights activists recognised all five activists as political prisoners. In total, there are 354 political prisoners in Belarus, and their number continues to grow in the wake of the wave of repression following the protests against the falsification of the presidential elections.
The ZPB is the largest organization of the Polish minority in Belarus. In 2005, the authorities in Minsk revoked its registration. The statutory goals of the Union of Poles in Belarus include cultivating Polishness, promoting Polish culture, learning the Polish language and nurturing Polish memorial sites.