Bronislaw Geremek, Polish witchhunt, and the now old fashioned moral choice in politics

Bronislaw Geremek, member of Solidarnosc, fought the communist regime in Poland. Now he is fighting the extreme right twin's regime. This regime has promulgated a law, which is called the 'lustration' law requiring from citizens applying for government jobs, any job, to sign a document or a confession declaring that they did not collaborate with the secret police of the communist regime, while, at the same time, maintaining the archives of the former regime, classified within a special ministry. Any refusal to sign or any proof of false declaration can make the person loose her job immediately.
Geremek, as an elected official, signed the document many times but felt that the recurrence of such a procedure and the new form it was given were humiliating for citizens and refused to sign it this time. He was immediately deposed by the Polish government from his elected position as European deputy.

Here is a translation of a text he wrote in protest to this law.

Central Europe is still struggling to come to terms with its communist past. This difficulty can be found not only at the reflexion and analysis levels but also at the political one.
To define the new measure taken by Polish authorities to debunk those individuals who were involved in some sort of collaboration with the political police of the communist regime in order to prevent them from participating in public life, Czechs introduced the term 'lustration'. All other central and eastern European countries have endorsed the term while giving it slightly different meanings and content.

Poland, since 1989, have attempted to come to terms with the problem without following the example of Germany who largely opened the archives of the Stasi to the public. In Poland, and it has been going on for few years now, we are summoned to declare during any election, local, national or European, if we had collaborated with the security services of the ex-regime. People accepting a job in the administration of the state were submitted to the same measure.
I personally, on many occasions, had to sign a declaration to the effect that I did not collaborate with the secret services of the communist regime. Last time I signed such a declaration was in 2004 when I ran for a seat in the European parliament. However, in March 2007 I was asked again to sign the declaration under the new 'lustration' law assorted by a new condition which strips from his job any individual refusing to sign the declaration.
This is a humiliating and absurd requirement but these are not the only reasons that pushed me to refuse to sign the declaration. By refusing to sign the declaration, I am expressing, this time, my refusal of the new law. I find such a law unacceptable in a democratic Europe. This 'lustration' law concerns some 400000 to 700000 individuals who work in government jobs. A special institute named 'the institute of national memory' is devoted to the archives of the secret police. This insitute has the mandate to judge directly any individual who was involved with the secret police byassing the regular justice system. In addition to people who hold giovernment jobs, journalists and teachers are concerned by the 'lustration' law and the judgements of the institute.
I believe that the 'lustration' law in its present form violates moral rules, threatens freedom of expression as well as the independance of universities and the media. It embodies a form of state control on Truth and Memory by generating a 'ministry of truth' a 'police of memory'. It strips the citizen form his rights to defend himself from libel and calumny by weakening the legal protection of his rights.
By refusing to sign my own declaration I am expressing my condemnation of the law. My action is not a political action. I hope that my refusal will push authorities to become more aware of the plight and the moral concern of the ordinary citizen and to reformulate the law. Such a law reveals a way of governance in which the power is based on the exploitation and the creation of conflicts in a society. The law creates a general feeling of anxiety among citizens and strenghtens the dependance of indiviudals to the power.
Poland is a free and democratic country, well anchored in the European union. I want society to mobilise in order to eliminate bad laws and end such methods of governance. This is not a personal plight, this is a plight for a democratic and European Poland.

Read Ignacio Ramonet's 'Polish witchhunt'


Anonymous said...

How sweet it is when the nazis are banned from political power. The question of the last century is not how many are dead because of nazism and fascism genocide, but how come the communist are held to a different standard, after all, dead by dead, torture by torture the Communist are the Goliath in crimes against humanity. But then again, European countries has laws to prevent any Nazi ideology from acquiring power, but when a victimized country by communism try to emulate this, Bam! the bomb explode. Whether you like it or not, Poland and the Check Republic have the same, if not more, rights to find it's own justice from the communist crimes of it's past as Nazi Germany did. Hypocrites!!!!, while over one hundred millions of human being died as direct consequences of that genocidal regime, people like you defend the victimizer by accusing the victims.

The truth should over come. No matter how hard they try to hide it.

Juan Cuellar

beatroot said...

I am interested to know why the French have got so interested in this case? The petition - which you can get from my blog - was started by Le Monde, I believe, and much of the interest has been on French language blogs. Why?

Sophia said...

It is obvious why the French are interested in this matter. Call it European integration.
First, the French have been struggling with the extreme right which is a constant phenomenon and which they see as a threat to their democracy.
Second, the lustration law reached a European deputy, so Poland is not as far as it may seem, it is in Bruxelles.
There seem to be an emergence of extremisms along with European integration and for European integration to succeed these extremisms must be contained...

Since March 29th 2006