Rafał A. Ziemkiewicz was arrested at Heathrow and treated as a criminal

Unprecedented: UK expels conservative Polish journalist just for his opinions

Is the United Kingdom still a democracy in which freedom of speech and freedom of the press are guaranteed? This doubt seems more than reasonable.

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Treated like a criminal upon arrival at Heathrow

This Saturday, the Polish journalist and writer Rafał A. Ziemkiewicz, a contributor to the conservative-liberal magazine DoRzeczy, traveled to the United Kingdom with his wife and daughter, who will soon begin her studies at the University of Oxford. Upon arriving at Heathrow Airport, Ziemkiewicz was arrested and taken to an interrogation room. In addition, they took his fingerprints and took photos of him as if he were a criminal. All this without informing him at any time about the reasons for his arrest.

The Home Office justifies their expulsion on the grounds of opinion

Finally, the journalist was given a letter from the British Home Office stating the following: "You have sought permission to enter the United Kingdom as a visitor for two days. However, I consider your exclusion from the United Kingdom is conducive to the public good. This is due to your conduct and views which are odds with British values and likely to cause offence and therefore make it undesirable for you to be granted entry." The brief adds: "You have not sought entry under any other provisions under the immigration rules. I therefore refuse you permission to enter the United Kingdom."

A violation of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

What the Home Office brief makes clear is that he has been denied entry into the United Kingdom for his opinions, a veto after which the Polish journalist has been forced to leave the country, being seized on a plane back to Warsaw. Apparently, in the UK Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is no longer in force:

"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

Nor does Article 2 of that declaration appear to be in force: "Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion." Nor Article 8: "Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law."

They did not even tell him why "conduct" and "views" have expelled him

Significantly, the Home Office brief does not even indicate what “conduct” and what “views” are those that have led to treating a journalist as a criminal, which reveals the arbitrariness of this expulsion. It should be noted that Ziemkiewicz has no judicial conviction in the United Kingdom, so his arrest and expulsion have been made by virtue of an exclusively political decision. This is what can be expected from a dictatorship, but not from a country that calls itself democratic.

In 2018 a leftist muslim deputy denounced the Polish journalist

The origin of this authoritarian treatment of a foreign journalist may be in a complaint that the Muslim Labor MP Rupa Huq made against Ziemkiewicz, accusing him of racism and Islamophobia. The question we must ask ourselves now is: is being singled out by any muslim or left-wing MP enough to get banned in the UK? Is this the idea of democracy that the conservative Boris Johnson government has, increasingly subject to the ideological dictates of the left? Maybe instead of the United Kingdom we have to start talking about "Britainistan", because the standards of freedom of speech in that country have just fallen short of those they have in Islamic dictatorships.

Strong protest from the Association of Polish Journalists

The veto of the Polish journalist in the UK has caused a scandal in Poland, even among those who do not share Ziemkiewicz's views. The Center for the Monitoring of Freedom of the Press of the Association of Polish Journalists (CMWP SDP) has issued a harsh statement in which it "vigorously protests against the baseless and scandalous detention of the Polish journalist and publicist Rafał Ziemkiewicz by the border service in Heathrow Airport in Great Britain and asks state authorities, including the Foreign Office, to explain all the circumstances of this case as soon as possible and in detail. The arrest and rejection of a journalist in Britain because of his views is a particularly outrageous manifestation of the removal of journalists who identify with conservative and right-wing views from the public space."

The CMWP SDP adds: "The arrest of Rafał Ziemkiewicz and his veto from entering Britain is a scandalous and unacceptable violation of the principle of freedom of expression, fundamental for any democratic country. In accordance with art. 10 sec. 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights, everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right includes the freedom to have opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference from public authorities and across borders." The CMWP SD also recalls the aforementioned Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and also Article 19.2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:

"Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice."

Furthermore, the CMWP SDP states: "According to the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), freedom of expression applies not only to the right to information or opinions that are not offensive or neutral, but even to those that are offensive, scandalous or disturbing (Prager and Oberschlick v. Austria, application no. 11662/85)."

The Association of Polish Journalists recalls that Rafał Ziemkiewicz "is a well-known and respected Polish journalist, publicist with conservative and right-wing views, political and economic commentator, as well as a writer specialized in science fiction and socio-moral literature, author of several dozen of novels, collections of stories and journalistic books. In view of the situation described above, the CMWP SDP appeals to the state authorities, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to clarify all the circumstances of this case as soon as possible and in detail."

The United Kingdom did allow a rally of the far-left party Podemos

From Spain, Counting Stars joins the protest of the Association of Polish Journalists against this violation of freedom of expression committed against Rafał A. Ziemkiewicz. It is intolerable that something like this happens in a country that calls itself democratic. Incidentally, the arrest of the Polish journalist reveals a double yardstick on the part of the British government. In 2014, an act of the far-left Spanish party Podemos was allowed to be held in London, despite its links with dictatorships such as Iran, Venezuela and Cuba. Is the affinity for such regimes in line with "British values"?


Photo: Polska Agencja Prasowa.

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