Five charged with inciting hatred over WW II Jedwabne pogrom
PR dla Zagranicy
Five men who allegedly heckled a tolerance march in 2011 in Bialystok, north east Poland, have been charged with inciting hatred after 'refusing to apologise for the WW II-era Jedwabne massacre of Jews.
The accused, who are between 19 and 25, followed the progress of the September 2011 march, which came after a rash of racist incidents in the region.
The defendants stand accused of shouting such slogans as “I will not apologize for Jedwabne,” referring to a notorious wartime massacre of Jewish citizens by their Polish Catholic neighbours at the nearby town of Jedwabne in 1941, the subject of Jan Gross's controversial book Neighbours.
Other chants allegedly included “All of Poland only white.”
The so-called March of Unity was held in protest against a number of apparently nationalistic offences in the region, including the defacement of a commemorative obelisk at Jedwabne, an arson attack on a Muslim Cultural Centre, and the defacement of 28 Lithuanian road signs (there is a significant Lithuanian minority in the region).
The charges have been issued by the District Prosecutor's Office in Bialystok, the city where all of the accused are resident.
One of the defendants has already admitted to the charges against him, and is pleading guilty. The others deny the charges and have refused to speak about the incident.
If found guilty, the accused could be fined, or in the severest instance, receive two-year prison sentences.
In 2001, the then Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski apologised on behalf of the Polish nation for the WW II massacre, where locals in the town of Jedwabne rounded up hundreds of Jews and burnt them in a barn.
"In the name of those who believe that one cannot be proud of the glory of Polish history without feeling, at the same time, pain and shame for the evil done by Poles to others," Kwasniewski said in 2001. (pg/nh)