WARSAW, Poland (JTA) — A Polish-Jewish activist appeared in a Warsaw court to face charges stemming from a pro-Israel demonstration he organized.
Tadeusz Markiewicz had permission for the July 2014 rally in Warsaw to run until 4 p.m., but it lasted longer, leading to the indictment and the trial that started Tuesday. The demonstration, which attracted about 80 people, was held during Israel’s war last summer with Hamas in Gaza
The pro-Israel rally was in response to a pro-Palestinian demonstration held the same day. Both were held next to the Israeli Embassy. Police separated the two groups of demonstrators.
In November, Markiewicz received a warrant issued by the court to pay the $570 penalty for “disruption of the second demonstration by using a sound system.” Markiewicz’s lawyer, Monika Krawczyk, appealed the judgment.
Markiewicz calls his case a matter of freedom of assembly.
“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.”
Piotr Kadlcik, the former chairman of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland, who took part in the July demonstration, testified on Tuesday.
“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 told 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.”