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October 2, 2013
Dear Friend of the Campaign for Peace and Democracy,

We want to call your attention to the important "Open Letter in Defense of Edward Snowden" written by four prominent former Polish Solidarity leaders, Barbara Labuda, Józef Pinior, Zbigniew Bujak, and Wladyslaw Frasyniuk.

The letter was originally published in the major Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza on July 23, 2013, under the title "Leading PRL Oppositionists Defend Snowden"; the authors declare that "It is a disgrace for democracy that he [Snowden] must seek asylum with Putin." The signers connect Snowden's courageous revelations to Solidarity's own struggle for freedom in the 1980s, and ask the Polish government to call on European states to act in a principled and decent way by honoring Snowden's urgent request for political asylum.

The Campaign for Peace and Democracy, which worked throughout the 1980's to defend the rights of Solidarity activists against government repression while at the same time opposing U.S. militarism, was pleased to get this letter translated into English and to forward it to The Nation. We are very proud to share it with you today. The text is below, along with brief bios of the four signers.

You may also wish to read Jonathan Schell's perceptive article about the open letter, "Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, the New Dissidents?," which appeared in the Sept 23, 2013 issue of The Nation.

Finally, we want to remind you of Malalai Joya's New York City public meeting this Friday, October 4th -- see the box at the end of this message for details. We hope to see those of you who are in the area on Friday!

In peace and solidarity,
Tom                           Joanne

Thomas Harrison and Joanne Landy
Co-Directors
Campaign for Peace and Democracy
New York, NY, USA

 


OPEN LETTER BY LEADERS OF POLAND'S SOLIDARITY
MOVEMENT IN DEFENSE OF EDWARD SNOWDEN

Protecting the whistleblower who laid bare the uglier sides of the American administration.

street poster of Snowden

Edward Snowden has killed nobody, kidnapped nobody. He has neither beaten anyone nor blown anything up. He is nevertheless pursued and under siege like a terrorist. Why?

Because he has revealed inconvenient truths about the actions of the authorities of his own country. He has revealed to the world that the American government systematically monitors the behavior of millions of its own citizens by a massive intelligence operation and the surveillance of telephone and Skype conversations, Facebook postings, emails, and chat groups. Snowden's revelations lay bare the ugly sides of the American administration.

They also lay bare something else: the heartlessness, cowardice and hypocrisy of our own, European democracy. To Snowden's request for political asylum, both old and new democratic European states have staunchly refused, hiding behind rules, codes, and pathetic bureaucratic arguments.

What has happened to our commitment to civic freedoms and human rights, the putative basis for democracy, to which our political class continually appeals?

Snowden, after all, regardless of his intentions, has come to the defense of regular citizens fed up by the pathologically flourishing system of surveillance.

The fact that he must seek help of the autocratic Putin is a disgrace for democracy. The fact that the only governments so far offering him protection are themselves dictatorships is a scandal for democratic states. The indifference and spinelessness Europe's democracies have shown on these matters brings them enormous discredit.

We expect from the Polish authorities a compliance with Polish law, which requires a determination whether an individual seeking asylum, from any country whatsoever, will be subject to torture or the death penalty if returned.

We expect our Polish representatives to raise the Snowden case in both the European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, in order, in recognition of his actions, to extend to him the protection of those very democratic institutions that have been created in Europe precisely for the defense and dissemination of civic freedom and human rights.

Signed: Barbara Labuda, Józef Pinior, Zbigniew Bujak, Wladyslaw Frasyniuk
July 23, 2013


Barbara Labuda—born 1946, active with the Workers Defense Committee in the 1970s and with Solidarity and Solidarity underground in the 1980s, parliamentarian from 1989 to 1997, served in the presidential administration of Aleksander Kwasniewski.

Józef Pinior—born 1955, activist in Wroclaw Solidarity in 1980-81, responsible for saving union funds from confiscation by martial law authorities; elected to European Parliament 2004-2009.

Zbigniew Bujak—born 1954, worker in tractor factory in 1970s, leader of Solidarity in the Warsaw region in 1980-81, key leader of underground Solidarity in later 1980s, participated in Round Table negotiations of 1989, parliamentarian from 1989 to 1991.

Wladyslaw Frasyniuk—born 1954, bus driver in 1970s, leader of Solidarity movement in Wroclaw in 1980-81, key leader of underground Solidarity in later 1980s; businessman since the 1990s.

Translated by David Ost.