The sixth "HUMAN FORUM - Democracy at Risk" has been held on November 27th – 28th, 2019, in Banská Bystrica, Slovakia. It is an event initiated by the Civic Platform NOT IN OUR TOWN (NIOT). The key objective of the NIOT platform has been to combat any fascist or Neo-Nazi initiatives in the region and other regions in Slovakia. The main idea since the beginning of the HUMAN FORUM history has been looking for answers whether democracy in Slovakia/ Europe/ worldwide was at risk.
Robert Hojda was representing KORD at the event. See the transcript of his speech below:
The Congress of Civic Democratic Movements was established as an agreement platform,and as a platform for cooperation for all civic movements, i.e. the so-called Street Opposition - which means the people who demonstrate in the streets of cities and smaller towns throughout Poland.
Let me mention some crucial moments from the history of Poland and Europe:
- On September 17,1980 in Poland Solidarity, a civic movement, was formed, to finally overcome communism on June 4, 1989. In autumn 1989 the fall of communism occurred in many countries of Central and Eastern Europe and it was called the “Autumn of Nations”. During this period, the communist regime collapsed.
- In March 1999 Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic joined NATO, and in May 2004 they joined, with Slovenia, the European Union.
Since then Poland has been developing dynamically and has always looked for cooperation with Europe. For Poland this was a really dynamic development and changes were clearly visible.
Since 2015 Poland has been ruled by Law and Justice Party - a party that effectively slows down Polish development and returns it to the gloomy times of communism.
Law and Justice - this name has nothing to do with the meaning of these words.
After the ruling party – in Polish: Prawo i Sprawiedliwość - came to power the following happened:
- The public television became the government’s propaganda tool which has nothing to do with independent journalism.
- The Constitution is constantly broken by the government and the president.
- The courts and prosecutors are no longer independent bodies. Judges and prosecutors who do not want to obey today’s ruling party are harassed not only in the media, but also directly in their workplaces; their families also suffer.
- The Constitutional Tribunal is completely dismantled.
- Human rights and especially LGBT+ and women’s rights are not respected.
- There is unimaginable chaos in education and health care.
- Non-governmental organizations are discriminated against.
- Independent culture and art are being destroyed.
- The already strong position of the Catholic Church is constantly increasing its domination.
- The nationalist fascist movements, with the support of the government and church, are gaining more and more influence also in the Parliament.
- The police became an instrument in the hands of the ruling party.
- The president, coming from the ruling party, repeatedly breaks the constitution by signing documents that do not comply with it.
- The positions in the government companies are generously filled with obedient politicians and their families.
- Political corruption is becoming the norm.
- Street opposition demonstrating civic resistance to the above actions is threatened by calls to police stations or intrusions by the police at home, their IDs are permanently checked in the streets; they are stigmatized by the media subordinated to the ruling party, which very often means that they lose their jobs and are exposed to direct harassment in public - including cases of beating.
That is a very difficult time for Poland, for Polish citizens.
The Street Opposition consists of many groups operating throughout Poland.
Therefore, the organization of one common place to exchange ways of fighting for democratic future seems necessary.
The Congress has already organized four meetings. The first one took place in October 2018 in Łódź.
Let me give you some examples of what we achieved during these meetings:
- people could finally meet in person, in real life and made personal contacts – many of them knew each other only from Facebook
- the protesting groups presented themselves and their achievements
- we exchanged experiences
- we did some trainings in activities in public sphere, provided by specialists (i.e. Lex Paulson)
- we discussed practical cooperation, such as for example:
creation of common events’ calendar, production of leaflets and graphic design, the ways to fight for democracy in their different territories, the preparation to protests
We also invited to the Congress people important for democracy like judges, prosecutors and local government politicians.
We are currently in a proces of creating a Foundation which will support Congress of Civic Democratic Movements and the meetings and actions dedicated to the promotion of democracy.
I believe that thanks to this there will be a possibility to provide better help to groups all over Poland.
Let me list some of the goals of the Congress for the nearest future:
1). The protection and promotion of values incorporated in the Constitution of the Republic of Poland.
2). The promotion of activities for the creation of the civil society and movements and their better integration.
3). Activities related to human rights in the field of protection of the civil rights and freedoms, equal rights of women, the disabled, non-heteronormative and transsexual people, national, ethnic, religious and cultural minorities.
4). Social, cultural, information and educational activity promoting the development of democracy in Poland and Europe, including social and electronic media.
5). The organization of public and cultural events, picket lines, demonstrations, concerts and other events that show and promote democratic and European values.
6).The promotion of the protection of natural environment in Poland and Europe.
I understand that there are a lot of things to do. Therefore, we need to improve cooperation not only in our own country - we need better cooperation in the entire Europe.
Following today’s meeting, I would like to invite everyone to attend the First International Congress of Civic Democratic Movements which will take place in Poland next year, probably in Warsaw.
It will be an opportunity to show our solidarity with the democratic European values.
Someone can ask if it will work.
My answer is yes, it will work, because we are wise, we are determined, we are strong, and we want to be in one united and democratic European family.