Freedom and Peace Movement
A short history
Marek Adamkiewicz refuses to take the military oath, which includes a pledge of alliance and loyalty to the USSR. On December 18,a military court in Szczecin sentences him to two and a half years in prison.
Over a dozen people involved in the Independent Student Union, which was banned under martial law, send a letter to the Polish People’s Republic’s State Council, asking for the’ Release of Adamkiewicz. „An oath,” they assert, „is an ethical fact and it constitutes an individual act of human conscience; therefore it must not be subject to legal constraint.” The Council replies that it has no authority over court decisions.
In a church in Podkowa Leśna near Warsaw, 12 people demanding Ądamkiewicz’s release hold a week-long hunger protest accompanied by a seminar on peace and human rights. In the course of discussions, a conviction is born that there is a need for an open and publicly active peace movement in Poland.
In April 14, a group of 21 peop1e in Cracow sign the founding declaration of the Freedom and Peace movement. On May 2, Warsaw representatives add their signatures, followed by signatories in Wroc1aw, Szczecin and Gdansk. Soon WiP takes e form of a loose alliance of groups active in several cities, with varied ideologies and internal structures but willing to cooperate with one another to attain concrete common goals.
Several WiP participants are detained by the security police which attempt to prevent a ceremony to honor the memory o Otto Schimek, a Wehrmacht soldier who was executed for his refusal to serve in the Nazi army during World War II and is buried in the village of Machowa near Tarnów.
In Amsterdam, at the Conference of European Nuclear Disarmament, WiP [unable to attend, ed. note) sends its address to peace movements:
Marek Adamkiewicz’s act is to us an example of a peaceful attitude … A man who is ready to execute any order is a greater threat to peace- than the neutron bomb … Authoritarian states are in themselves a contradiction of the idea of peace. As long as nations are oppressed, exploited, terrorized, and slain, there can be no peace in the world, regardless of whether the aggressor are foreign armies or their own governments … We appeal to you to include justice and civic freedom permanently into the idea of peace and to treat [the] struggle with totalitarian systems on an equal basis with the pursuit of disarmament.
A campaign begins in which men send their military ID documents back to the Ministry of National Defense to protest Marek Adamkiewicz’s imprisonment. Those who sent back their documents are sentenced by police courts to three months in jail.
Eight WiP participants and three members of CODENE and L’Objection de Conscience sign the first individual peace treaty.
For several hours the security police again detain 14 members of WiP who are on their way to Otto Schimek’s grave on the anniversary of his death. At his grave, in Machowa, the declaration of the Freedom and Peace movement is made.
On November 15, Wojciech Jankowski is arrested in Gdansk. He refuses to enlist in the army, requesting that he be permitted to perform civilian service instead. Before his arrest he was dismissed from work and deprived of the right to practice his profession. On December 23, the Navy Court in Gdynia sentences Jankowski to three and a half years in prison.
On January 16 a press conference is held in Jacek Kuron’s apartment in connection with the official Warsaw Congress of Intellectuals for Peace. WiP representatives deliver a statement:
In the World Year of Peace we demand that the authorities of the Polish People’s Republic cease persecuting persons involved in peace activity. We expect an introduction of civilian service to provide an option to military service … We demand that the army oath be changed so as to eliminate obligations of ideology and loyalty to the USSR.
Tomasz Wacko from Wroclaw and Jarosław Wojewódzki from Gorzów Wielkopolski are arrested for refusal to swear the military. The sentences are, respectively, one and one-half years two and one-half years in prison. Other arrests and sentences follow. On February 19, the security police arrest WiP activists Jacek Czaputowicz and Piotr Niemczyk. They are charged with:
… founding and directing an association (i.e. the Freedom and Peace movement) aimed at a crime and entering into collusion with a person acting on behalf of an alien organization with the purpose of doing harm to the political interest of the Polish People’s Republic (meaning contacts with peace movements in the West).
Investigation, conducted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, includes WiP activists from Warsaw, Cracow, Wroclaw, Gdansk. WiP faces the most serious police/legal represe action to crush it. In Poland and abroad, a widespread campaign is launched in defense of Czaputowicz and Niemczyk. Finally, both are released in September 1986 and the investigation is discontinued on the grounds of an amnesty. This amounts to wiP winning a permanent place on the Polish political scene.
Another hunger protest is held in the Podkowa Leśna church to support imprisoned peace activists. Eventually hunger strikes become one of the principal forms of manifesting the WiP position on the most important matters.
street demonstrations in Wroclaw are staged to protest the suppression of information on the Chernobyl nuclear disaster by the polish governments. These are the first street protests by WiP. During the Helsinki Forum in Milan, a.WiP representative makes a public statement on WiP’s position on the matter.
A march to Otto Schimek’s grave is organized; the security police detain almost 50 persons.
WiP hosts a delegation of West Germany’s Green Party on a 10day visit to Poland. The long, open discussions produce no full agreement but the joint and divergent views are stated in a joint declaration.
On International Children’s Day (June l) an ecological demonstration is held in Krakow. Over a thousand demonstrators, many of them mothers with their children, march in the center of the city, carrying slogans „WE WANT NO IODINE FROM THE EAST” and „STOP POISONING OUR CHILDREN.” A WiP leaflet reads:
We express our solidarity with the peoples of the Ukraine, Byelorussia, Lithuania, and other inhabitants of the USSR, who suffered the particularly severe consequences ot the reactor failure. We are grateful to those citizens of the USSR who risked their lives to contain the effects of the disaster, thus protecting our own health.
On the eve of the fortieth anniversary of the Jewish pogrom in Kielce, several wiP participants lay bunches of flowers outside the house where Jewish tenants were killed. The intervention of security police ends the ceremony. Fines are administered in a simplified legal procedure.
A bill is passed concerning „special measures to be taken toward some offenders,” or an amnesty. without setting down clear conditions for the release of political prisoners, the bill gives the prosecutor’s office a freedom of interpretation. In a letter smuggled out of prison, Jankowski writes:
I have had an opportunity to find out for myself the bill’s humanitarian character. The military counterintelligence officer who visited me twice in my celI made no bones about it: a release in return for information on pacifist and anarchist groups in Poland. Since I am of the opinion that it is better to be a man in prison than a scoundrel at large, I firmly refused to cooperate.
The decision to free most political prisoners will not be made until early September.
On October 3 in downtown Warsaw, WiP members stage a sit-in in support of two conscientious objectors, Jankowski and Nakielski, whom the authorities refused to recognize as political prisoners. This decision made the conscientious objectors ineligible for amnesty. Eleven people taking part in the protest are fined, with a jail option. Nevertheless, Jankowski and Nakielski are released from prison. Public opinion sees the release as a big success for the Freedom and Peace movement.
During the World Peace Congress in Copenhagen, WiP foreign representative Jan Minkiewicz argues for the basic principle of peace being inextricably connected with human rights. He meets with a sharp response from the official PPR delegate Dobrosielski, who denies that there are political prisoners in Poland.
The memorandum „Infuse True Life in the Helsinki accords” is published in Vienna at the start of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. WiP participants are among the signatories. At Otto Schimek’s grave in Machowa, the security police take unusually brutal actions. Some Greens and press reporters from West Germany, in addition to dozens of Wip members, are detained. Several people are beaten in and near the cemetery. The WiP statement following the incident reads:
Arrests, interrogation, and beatings prove that the authorities treat the idea of peace as a mere instrument.
In Wroclaw, the first of a series of WiP demonstrations takes place aimed at shutting down the Siechnice metallurgical works which poison the Wroclaw drinking water supply with heavy metals. Further demonstrations in December and January 1987 end with police intervention and fines for participants. In January 1987, the Wroclaw regional council passes a decision to close down the plant by 1992. In the campaign against the Siechnice Works, WiP wins the support of various official institutions and associations.
Late in 1986, the Krakow WiP chapter, responding to an International Red Cross appeal from Geneva, begins to raise funds to aid Afghan refugees in Pakistan. After lengthy and unsuccessful attempts to transfer the 135,000 zlotys raised to the IRC through the National Bank of Poland, wiP adopts the family of the 39 year-old Afghan woman Bibi Malika. Malika fled to Pakistan after having had her pelvis shattered and an eye damaged by a bomb. After four years of receiving no treatment in Pakistan, she was brought to Boise, Idaho, USA by the International Alliance for Freedom and Peace to be treated in St. Luke Hospital. Before returning to Pakistan, she received money raised by WiP in Poland.
In 1986, the Polish press first begins to notice officially the existence of WiP. In a growing number of articles, WiP participants are spoken of in very aggressive terms, called traitors of the homeland, and equated with deserters tram „the struggle against the Nazis. On January 7, 1987, the official military newspaper Żołnierz Wolności, which has led the campaign against WiP, publishes a matter-of-fact article about a substitute conscript service, discussing the feasibility of serving one’s time in the civilian sector. To justify discussing the subject, the editors admit that the problem of alternative service is „very often repeated in letters to the editor.”
During a special press conference, the spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense discusses the conditions for applying for alternative service. The conference is widely covered by the government press. From now on, the problem of conscientious objection will be constantly present in commentaries in the state-owned media.
In Krakow, WiP participants gather signatures for an Amnesty International petition to stop the use of torture by Afghan authorities and march into the streets carrying the slogan STOP TORTURE IN AFGHANISTAN. The demonstrators are fined.
In Boise, Idaho, USA, WiP member Wojciech Modelski founds and registers an International Alliance for Freedom and Peace. IAFP publicizes the ideas and activity of WiP in the American Northwest. On IAFP initiative, wounded Afghan „mujahedin” are brought to America for treatment.
conscientious objector Oskar Kasperek, forcefully drafted into the army, goes on a hunger strike. „This method becomes the ultimate protest conscientious objectors have at their disposal. In August, Kasperek is arrested and sentenced to two years in prison.
An open letter to Mikhail Gorbachev is drawn up in Krakow, postulating a withdrawal of Soviet forces from Polish soil. On April 10, the main points of the letter are presented at a joint solidarity and WiP press conference. After the press conference, security police prevent a demonstration outside the soviet Consulate in Krakow by arresting 20 participants including some journalists. Soon afterward, Soviet Consulate officials refuse to accept the letter; instead, they propose a public meeting with US Consulate representatives on disarmament.
In the Spring of 1987, WiP conducts numerous environmental protection campaigns in Poznan, Szczecin, and Krakow. In Gdansk, the local WiP center launches a campaign against the construction of the Żarnowiec nuclear power plant in the Baltic area. Also, WiP protests the imprisonment of opposition member Peter Pospichal in Czechoslovakia and conscientious objector Zsolt Kesztelyi in Hungary.
On May 7-9, due to the Freedom and Peace movement’s initiative, an international seminar is held in Warsaw on the subject International „Peace and the Helsinki Accords”, the first independent meeting of its kind in a communist country in a long time. The assembled representatives of 18 countries resolve to set up an International Intervention Center for more efficient action whenever peace activists are persecuted anywhere in the world. The seminar’s final document states:
Efforts toward human rights and toward peace and disarmament are closely interconnected and mutually complementary.
For the first time, participants are not disturbed by the security police in honoring Otto Schimek at his grave in Machowa.
At a meeting of the Consultative Board (the advisory body to the State council), the distinguished lawyer and professor, Krzysztof Skubiszewski, speaks in favor of allowing the Freedom and Peace movement to operate freely and to introduce alternative civilian service. General Jaruzelski is critical:
„We know what is behind it,” he says ( referring to WiP)
During Pope John Paul’s visit, demonstrations are staged in Krakow and Gdansk with WiP’s participation. The police break up the protests with truncheons and tear gas. Many Wip activists are detained in jail throughout the Pope’s visit. A letter is later delivered to the Pontiff, giving an account of the repressions against WiP members.
At a session of the Convention of European Nuclear Disarmament in Coventry, an official representative of an independent peace movement from the East, Konstanty Radziwill from WiP, is present for the first time. Observers perceive his presence as a symbolic breakthrough in the re cent history of the European peace movement.
An unprecedented Supreme Court verdict is pronounced: the security police are obliged to apologize to WiP’s Jan M. Rokita for illegal violation of his freedom and battery while he was detained from May 3-5, 1987, prior to a celebration in honor of Otto Schimek in Machowa. The court dismisses the extraordinary appeal lodged by the PPR Prosecutor General against this decision. The official press agency PAP commented on the affair.
WiP joins the Miedzyrzecz inhabitants to protest against locating a nuclear waste dump in the former German bunkers, currently sheltering a bat preserve. The following year, the issue is settled in the public’s favor.
In Bydgoszcz, 82 WiP participants go on a hunger strike to protest the imprisonment of conscientious objectors in Poland and the tougher line adopted by the authorities Between mid-September and mid-October, 8 people are arrested. The sentences range from two and a half to three years in prison. Despite that, the number of people who demand the right to alternative service keeps growing. In Fall 1986, WiP carries out numerous street actions in support of imprisoned conscientious objectors. The novelty in these protests is the use of scaffolding, erected around buildings under repair, that is difficult for the police to reach. Nearly 100 people are detained and fined as a result.
Slawomir Dutkiewicz, a farmer in the Bydgoszcz area and a Wip participant active in defending prisoners of conscience, is arrested on November 12. Since September 1987, Dutkiewicz has refused three times to enlist and has surrendered his military by sending it to the Minister of National Defense. In December, he is sentenced to two years and three months in prison for „persistently evading military service.” On his ,’arrest, Slawomir Dutkiewicz begins an indefinite hunger strike ..
On November 17, another conscientious objector, Jacek Borcz, is sentenced in Koszalin to three years in prison. Similar sentences are soon to follow.
Wojciech Modelski visits Nicaragua with a delegation from the US International Alliance for Freedom and Peace. Acting on ‚behalf of WiP, he meets with members of the Catholic Church, ~opposition groups, the independent press, and the human rights ,movement.
The purpose ot the trip is to get acquainted with the way the Arias peace plan is being carried out by Nicaragua’s government. The opinion following the visit is negative. The opposition newspaper, La Prensa, publishes on November 9 a letter from its editor-in-chief Jaime Chamorro Cardenal addressed to WiP. It says:
True peace and freedom can only be realized with democracy, and your message, which we will publish in La Prensa, will strengthen our people who have seen in you an example ot struggle and dignity.
In Budapest, WiP’s Jacek Czaputowicz participates in a seminar held jointly by the European East-West Dialog Network and the Hungarian democratic movement on the subject of „Gorbachev’s Reforms and the Perspectives for Europe.” The discussion centers on the development of transnational European democratic movements in the face of the changes in the USSR and the approaching signing of the INF Treaty.
During the Christmas season, a fourth group hunger protest is staged in defense of imprisoned conscientious objectors. The two-week action of 12 Warsaw participants is joined by another dozen in Opole and Gdansk. Parallel hunger protests in France, Belgium, Italy, and Greece involve, on the Italian Radical Party’s initiative, 13O people. The protesters address a letter to Sławomir Dutkiewicz suggesting that they end their common action at the same time. However, the jailer refuses to allow the letter to be delivered.
Picketing in the city of Wroclaw lasts throughout December to protest Dutkiewicz’s imprisonment. Eleven people are detained, some fined; there are also occasional beatings.
The European Parliament demands, in resolution B2-1848/87 of December 17, the introduction of alternative service for conscripts in the Communist countries and the release of imprisoned conscientious objectors. The resolution wins widespread acclaim among WiP participants.
A meeting takes place in Warsaw ot WiP and the representatives of West European peace movements, IKV of Holland, END of Great Britain, Pax Christi of Holland, and Nei Til Atomvapen of Denmark. A joint declaration demands the right to alternative service. In the course of the meeting WiP makes public its final decision not to sign the Russell Appeal because of its one-sidedness. This amounts to a refusal to enter the existing structures of the Western European peace movement.
A Polish government spokesman announces proposed changes in the universal defense obligation act. The new bill is to guarantee the right to conscientious objection and to provide, for those refusing to enlist, civilian duty lasting twice as long as military service. WiP proposes an appropriate cut in the duration of both military service (two years at present) and the postulated civilian service. The Ministry of National Defense announces a reduction of service in the Navy (now three years long) and the increase of early release from the service.
On the very day the spokesman announces the changes in the law (January 19), Sławomir Dutkiewicz is beaten at the Bydgoszcz prison in a soundproof celI where he was gagged with a towel. Dutkiewicz had been on a hunger strike since Novernber 12, 1987 and, in keeping with prison regulations, was force fed through a stornach pump. As his hunger protest continues, he becomes afflicted with a serious eye disease and suffers from muscle atrophy. At a closed session on January 26, the Supreme Court sustains his two years and three months sentence in prison.
Solidarity Intervention and Lawfulness Commission publishes a report claiming that among the 23 political prisoners in Poland, 11 are conscientious objectors.
On January 20, WiP organizes a demonstration outside the USSR Consulate in Krakow. The demands are for an immediate withdrawal of soviet troops from Afghanistan as a condition for successful peace talks in Geneva. The demonstrators are detained.
Numerous street protests are held nationwide to support Dutkiewicz. At a demonstration outside the Bydgoszcz Party Comrnittee building, the participants are asked inside for an explanatory discussion and are detained by the security police while talking with the local Party secretary.
WiP actively supports strikes spreading all over Poland. In Krakow, WiP organizes three student rallies at the Jagiellonian University. On May 2, twenty one WiP participants are detained by the Krakow police while demonstrating on the streets in support of the demands put forward by the striking workers of the Nowa Huta Steel Works. Gdansk WiP, hitherto far critical of Solidarity, supports the strikes by providing information, printing facilities and food to the shipyard surrounded by the police. WiP participants help to organize several student strikes in different cities.
The Polish parliament passes a bill changing the text of the military oath. A phrase pledging to serve faithfully in an alliance with the Soviet Army is dropped from the oath. WiP participants picket the parliament building demanding freedom for Sławek Dudkiewicz and 15 other conscientious objectors. The picketers are detained and fined.
The government accepts a project for a new bill regulating alternative service and sends it to parliament. In spite of WiP demands, the text is not published–which precludes public discussion of the project. It is known, however, that the government compromised for a three’ year long alternative service.
END holds its conference in Lund (Sweden). Five members of WiP who were invited are not allowed to travel. WiP sends a message to the conference which includes a positive assessment of the East/West disarmament talks, but calls once again for the respect for human rights as a prerequisite for stable peace. The message proposes that the international peace movement create a system of control over the mechanisms of alternative service in different countries.
On July 11, the day of Gorbachev’s arrival in Poland, the Freedom and Peace movement and the Independent Students Association organize demonstrations in Warsaw, Krakow and Szczecin demanding the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Poland. The demonstrators are detained.
In early July 1988, the following conscientious objectors were still in prison.
1. Dariusz Bajda, sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison
2. Piotr Bednarz, sentenced to 3 years in prison
3. Jacek Borcz, sentenced to 3 years in prison
4. Rafal Budzbon, sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison
5. Stawowir Dutkiewicz, sentenced to 2 1/4 years in prison;
6. Krzysztof Gotowicki, sentenced to 3 years in prison;
7. Edward Karp, sentenced to l 1/2 years in prison;
8. Oskar Kasperek, sentenced to 2 years in prison