Monday, July 1, 2024

Poland's Reset 2.0: The first persecution of Catholic priest since communism era

Yesterday, Polish opposition media published a letter from a Catholic priest, Fr. Michał Olszewski, jailed since end of March. Since then, his representatives have repeatedly raised alarms about illegal practices of both the police and the justice system. His lawyer, filed a complaint against the court's decision to extend the priest's detention. 

In the letter, Father Olszewski described the hours following his arrest and the days that followed. The priest describes how they tried to force him to testify without a lawyer present. The priest refused many times, after which they pointed out to him that by doing so he was worsening his situation and delaying his return home.

"I ate my first meal after 60 hours, when my attorney brought me a package from my brother. I had my first contact with the attorney after 20 hours," he wrote.

He was chained from all day long (even during physiological activities). "They didn't take off my handcuffs even for a moment. When we arrived at the cell, I heard that at that time there was nothing left, neither supper nor water. I begged for tap water, brought in a bottle, which was empty in the cell. In the morning, when I asked to be taken to the toilet, I heard that 'you have a water bottle, pour it into it'. I was only able to use the toilet around 8 a.m. before going to the prosecutor's office," he wrote.

He was woken up by lights every hour throughout the night. (This is a well know tactic used against political prisoners during communism era.)

This morning, Sovereign Poland politicians announced their intention to intervene in the case. Sebastian Kaleta, an MP, described the letter from Fr. Olszewski as "shocking material" that cannot be ignored.

"These are the facts resulting from this publication: Polish state services use torture against detainees. It was used against priest Michał Olszewski in a case that the new government is trying hard to create a big scandal out of. And in order to prove this scandal in any way, they simply torture the detained priest."

"That is why I am informing you that today we are submitting (...) a report to the UN Committee against Torture" – said Kaleta.

- Based on reporting by Niezalezna.