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UPDATE: PM urges Belarus to stop 'harassing' Polish minority

24.03.2021 16:58
Poland's prime minister on Wednesday urged the Belarusian authorities not to "harass" Poles in that country and to stop treating them as "hostages."
Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki, seen on a screen, issues a statement on Wednesday on Poles in Belarus.
Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki, seen on a screen, issues a statement on Wednesday on Poles in Belarus. Photo: PAP/Paweł Supernak

Mateusz Morawiecki's call came after Andżelika Borys, the head of an association of Poles in Belarus, was detained by police in the city of Grodno, close to the border with Poland, on Tuesday afternoon.

On Wednesday, she was sentenced to 15 days of detention for organizing an "illegal mass event".

Morawiecki said: "I call on the Belarusian authorities to calmly solve their internal problems without taking hostages, because this is how I view the latest attack on the Polish community living in Belarus."

He added that he would raise the issue of Borys's detention at an EU summit on Thursday.

Andżelika Borys, pictured in 2018.    Photo: PAP/Leszek Szymański Andżelika Borys, pictured in 2018. Photo: PAP/Leszek Szymański

Borys is the head of the Union of Poles in Belarus, the largest Polish organization in that country.

Andrzej Pisalnik, who is active in the Union, said Borys was detained for organising a traditional annual fair held by the association. This year it took place on March 7.

The Union of Poles in Belarus is not recognized by the Belarusian authorities but is nevertheless active, according to Polish state news agency PAP.

Borys was re-elected as its leader on Saturday.

'Attempt to intimidate' Polish community in Belarus

Meanwhile, Michał Dworczyk, the Polish prime minister’s chief of staff, said the detention of Borys was "a typical example of an attempt to intimidate the Polish community" in Belarus, Poland's eastern neighbour.

Dworczyk added: "We absolutely do not accept the persecution of the Polish minority in Belarus."

Earlier, the foreign ministry in Warsaw called for Borys to be released as soon as possible.

It urged the Belarusian authorities to stop the "arbitrary persecution" of members of the Polish minority in that country.

The foreign ministry said that the Union of Poles in Belarus focuses on cultivating Polish culture and tradition as well as supporting Polish education and Polish language learning.

Arrest 'tantamount to eliminating Polish identity'

It added in a statement that the arrest of Andżelika Borys "is tantamount to eliminating Polish identity and not only deals a blow to the good relations with Poland but also inflicts damage to Belarus’s traditional multiculturalism."

The foreign ministry in Warsaw said that on Tuesday it summoned the chargé d’affaires of the Belarusian embassy in Poland, who "received a clear message that the actions taken by Belarusian authorities are contrary to that country’s international obligations to protect national minorities as well as Polish-Belarusian bilateral commitments to protect the Polish national minority."


Source: PAP/IAR