In a letter sent on 2 August to Věra Jourová, Vice-president of the European Commission responsible for Values and Transparency, 10 MEPs have expressed their support for Bartosz Kramek and their opposition to the outrageous, politically motivated persecution carried out by the Polish government against him and the Open Dialogue Foundation, as well as other civil society representatives.
The MEPs, hailing from different countries and political groups, expressed their concern for the ever deteriorating state of the rule of law in Poland and in particular for the abuses the Open Dialogue Foundation (ODF) and its Supervisory Board Chair Bartosz Kramek have been subjected to.
In their words, “We believe that the case against Mr Kramek and ODF is an example of the government’s efforts to silence its critics. It is important to note that, under the current government, the public prosecution service has been completely politicised and made subordinate to the party in power”.
The signatories informed Vice-president Jourová of the legal ordeal Mr Kramek is facing. Mr Kramek, already dealing with dubious and vague charges against him, was arrested in June 2021 and put in pre-trial detention, a move which, given that Mr Kramek would regularly attend his court hearings, lacked any significant grounding in facts.
At the insistence of the prosecutor, Mr Kramek was risking a pre-trial detention period of 3 months with no bail, a situation that was avoided through great mobilization efforts in Polish and European civil society, including an open letter initiated by the former President of Poland Lech Wałęsa. Only after such pressure on the authorities and a continent-wide show of solidarity was Mr Kramek finally released: yet, the original, dubious accusations against him remain fully in place.
In their letter, the signatories also reminded Vice-president Jourová that this is not the first time the Polish ruling party goes after ODF. They recalled how his wife, ODF founder and president Lyudmyla Kozlovska, was put by Warsaw on the Schengen Information System black list as a reprisal against ODF activities in defense of the rule of law. They also reminded the Vice-president that ODF is currently suing the ruling party in a series of lawsuits and has won in all those that were settled so far, but that this is just the beginning: “Mr Kramek and his NGO are now facing a lengthy and costly legal battle, which the Polish authorities clearly started in an attempt to silence the organisation and induce a chilling effect on civil society”.
The 10 MEPs have expressed their concern that, should the EU ignore such attacks, the government of Poland will become more brazen in its repression of the country’s civil society, both within and outside the national borders. The MEPs remarked that the ruling party could force other countries to become accomplices in its abuses through requests for mutual legal assistance, a particularly significant threat for Belgium, where many ODF activists are based.
The message ended with an appeal for action and for the Commission to demand the cessation of all political persecution against Mr Kramek, ODF and civil society at large.
The letter was signed by Marc Angel (S&D; Luxembourg), Robert Biedroń (S&D; Poland), Anna Júlia Donáth (Renew Europe; Hungary), Danuta Maria Hübner(EPP; Poland), Isabel Santos (S&D; Portugal), Helmut Scholz (The Left; Germany), Michal Šimečka (Renew Europe; Slovakia), Nicolae Ştefănuță (Renew Europe; Romania), Tineke Strik (Greens/EFA; Netherlands), Róża Thun und Hohenstein (EPP; Poland).
Read more on Board Chair Bartosz Kramek’s persecution ad previous attempts to silence ODF:
- Gazeta Prawna: Law and Justice party loses to Kozlovska. Court challenges quality of Internal Security Agency materials (9 September 2019)
- Court: Secret services’ conclusions “unreasonable”, Lyudmyla Kozlovska should have stayed in Poland (5 September 2019)
- Polish Civil Society Under Assault: Chair of ODF’s Supervisory Board detained on fabricated charges (24 June 2021)
- Political arrest of Bartosz Kramek and electronic concentration camp in Kazakhstan. Open Dialogue Foundation at the OSCE SHDM (13 July 2021)
- President Lech Wałęsa’s appeal to release Bartosz Kramek (14 July 2021)
- GW: Kramek, you’ll never walk alone. Why does the arrest come now? (16 July 2021)
- Belgian Senator Mark Demesmaeker writes a letter in support of ODF Board member Bartosz Kramek (20 July 2021)