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Image: Adam Bodnar, the Polish Commissioner for Human Rights meeting members of Campaign Against Homophobia 
Copyright: Grzelak Piotr

Representatives of different Polish NGOs meet with Polish Commissioner for Human Rights, Adam Bodnar. Photo: http://www.rpo.gov.pl/

Attacks on Polish NGOs

318 Polish non-governmental organizations have signed an open letter to the Prime Minister Beata Szydło, urging her to take action in response to verbal abuse and violent physical attacks on NGOs and activists, which recently took place in Warsaw.

Thursday, 10 March 2016, by Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights

Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, a member of Human Rights House Network have reported the following:

 Over the last couple of weeks several organizations including Lambda Association, Campaign Against Homophobia, Klamra Foundation and the HejtStop project have been attacked. On 3 March 2016 three young men attempted to force their way into the office of the Campaign Against Homophobia, while shouting insults. The young men fled before the arrival of the police. This came as a second attack against an LGBT organization that week. On the night of 1-2 March unidentified perpetrators broke a window in the office of Lambda Association. This attack followed a previous incident, when in February a Celtic cross, and the phrases “white power”, and "no queering" were written on their office doors.

The intimidation against NGOs is not limited to vandalism, as an increasing number of NGO representatives are receiving threats of physical abuse and are becoming victim to online hate speech.

In mid-February several organizations that form the Coalition for Equal Opportunities informed Wojciech Kaczmarczyk, the Government Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment and Civil Society, about the attacks on NGO representatives and offices. In his response dated 24 February 2016, Kaczmarczyk stated that he did not have the required legal instruments that would enable him to take action in the described cases. According to him, bearing in mind their individual character as well as the lack of clarity, they should be assessed by a general court. The Plenipotentiary “can only call for good manners and restraint when voicing one’s opinion,” reads the letter.  

Following the March attacks, Kaczmarczyk published on his website a statement where he condemned the violence.

 After the attack on 3 March, Adam Bodnar, the Polish Commissioner for Human Rights, organized a meeting with representatives of organizations that were victims of violence. Bodnar drew attention to the lack of legal provisions on criminal liability for inciting violence on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Participants also discussed the issue of hate speech on the Internet. In a written statement Bodnar strongly condemned the incidents. He called on law enforcement to make every effort to identify the perpetrators. According to Bodnar prejudice-based violance should be met with a strong reaction from the state, since a lack of thereof could be read as a silent acceptance of discrimination and legitimization of hatred against persons exposed to unequal treatment. 

Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights
http://www.hfhr.pl/en/

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