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I UNDERSTAND
English Section

Senior member of association of Poles detained in Belarus: PM’s aide

25.03.2021 10:41
Andrzej Poczobut, a senior member of the Association of Poles in Belarus, was detained by police in the city of Grodno, close to the Polish border, on Thursday morning, an official in Warsaw told the media.
Audio
Andrzej Poczobut
Andrzej Poczobut Photo: PAP/Jakub Kamiński

"Today in the morning, Andrzej Poczobut was arrested in Grodno,” the Polish prime minister’s chief of staff, Michał Dworczyk, said in a Twitter post.

“A righteous and principled man, Poczobut is a member of the board of the Association of Poles in Belarus. He has for years been fighting for the rights of Poles in Belarus and has been repeatedly repressed by the Lukashenko regime,” Dworczyk added.

 “Andrzej, hang on! We’re with you!" he also wrote.

PM urges Belarus to stop 'harassing' Polish minority

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki 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 Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki is seen on a screen on Wednesday as he issues a statement on Poles in Belarus. Photo: PAP/Paweł Supernak

Morawiecki's call came after Andżelika Borys, the head of the Association of Poles in Belarus, was detained by police in Grodno on Tuesday afternoon.

On Wednesday, she was sentenced to 15 days of confinement 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. Photo: PAP/Leszek Szymański

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

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

The Association 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, Dworczyk said on Wednesday that 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 Association 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 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."

(gs-pk)

Source: PAP/IAR

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