A Polish-Jewish activist came before a Warsaw court on Tuesday to face charges he incurred for leading a pro-Israel demonstration last summer during Operation Protective Edge.
At the height of the war, in July, a group of pro-Palestinians demonstrated outside of the Israeli embassy in the Polish capital.
Tadeusz Markiewicz organized a counter-demonstration for the same day at the same location; he contacted the heads of local police and was granted permission to hold the pro-Israel rally until 4 p.m.
Clashes broke out between the two groups of demonstrators, forcing the intervention of local authorities. As a result of the brawl, the pro-Israel demonstration went past its allotted hour.
Suddenly, in November, Markiewicz was ordered to pay $570 for "disruption of the second demonstration by using a sound system."
Markiewicz’s lawyer, Monika Krawczyk, has appealed the ruling, demanding the fine imposed on the activist be canceled.
This is a case of freedom of assembly, Markiewicz asserts. “We have received legal protection from the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, an organization dealing with human rights,” he told JTA.
“Despite our appeals up to today, unfortunately, nobody from Poland is interested in the case. It is the battle for the right to freedom of assembly for all Polish people, regardless of their views and beliefs.”
Testifying on behalf of Markiewicz on Tuesday was fellow demonstrator Piotr Kadlcik, the former chairman of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland.
“It is sad that at a time when we are talking so much about civil initiatives, this protest meets with repressive and unnecessary reaction of the state,” Kadlcik noted in an interview with JTA. “I hope that the authorities of Polish-Jewish organizations in the future will draw more attention to the initiatives of members of our community. This is important — for Israel and for us.”