President reacts to the repressions of Poles living in Belarus
- It is unprecedented that incumbent Belarusian authorities go as far as to arrest representatives of legally operating Polish organisations. We will take further steps in the international arena. We will not leave our compatriots alone, said Polish President Andrzej Duda in response to the repressions against the Polish minority in Belarus.
The head of the Union of Poles in Belarus (UPB), Angelika Borys, was detained last Tuesday and on Wednesday sentenced to 15 days in custody for "organising an illegal mass event," as the authorities chose to refer the traditional fairs "Grodno Kaziuki" held every year.
On Thursday, members of the UPB Bureau Andrzej Poczobut, Irena Biernacka and Maria Tiszkowska were detained. On Thursday morning, searches were carried out in the premises of the UPB, in Polish schools, and in private homes of activists. Anna Paniszewa, director of the Polish School in Brest, has been detained for several weeks.
In response to these events, the President met on Thursday in the National Security Bureau with the Polish Ambassador to Belarus Artur Michalski and with heads of special services, where the aftermath of the detention of Poles was discussed.
On Friday, Andrzej Duda invited representatives of unions of the Belarusian minority in Poland to the Presidential Palace.
In recent days, President Duda has also held several talks with the heads of international organisations on the subject of the persecution of Poles in Belarus.
The President turned to three organisations: first, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, where on Thursday he spoke with its Secretary-General Helga Schmid and with OSCE High Commissioner for National Minorities Kairat Abdrakhmanov.
The Council of Europe was the second international organisation President Duda addressed. On Friday, the President spoke with the CoE Secretary General Marija Pejczinović Burić and received assurances that next week's meeting of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe will discuss possible actions to be taken and the stance of the Council of Europe on the matter.
The President also raised this issue to the United Nations. He spoke with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, who assured him that she would take a public stance on the persecution of Poles in Belarus and launch UN actions on that issue.
On Thursday, the President also spoke with Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid; Estonia is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2020-2021. President Kaljulaid affirmed that she would seek to address these issues at the UN Security Council.
With the same aim, President Duda sent a letter to the President of the United States, Joe Biden, as President of the country that currently chairs the UN Security Council.