A member of the board of the Polish gay rights group Campaign Against Homophobia (KPH) was arrested and beaten by police officers in Warsaw on Thursday afternoon, the group revealed today.
Robert Biedro? was observing, on behalf of KPH, the ‘Independence March’ organised by radical right wing nationalist groups National Radical Camp (ONR) and the All-Polish Youth (MW). Antifascist groups tried to block the march.
“I went there as an observer for the Campaign Against Homophobia,” Mr Biedro? told a press conference at the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights on Friday.
He told of how he and several others were “pinned to parked cars.
“They took out individual people, including me, from the crowd,” Mr Biedro? said. “But the worst thing happened in the police car. There, I was left alone with an officer. And, in simple words, I was brutally beaten.
“I’ve dealt with human rights protection for many years now and I’m devastated by what happened.”
Mr. Biedro? was subsequently taken to a police station where he was held for 20 hours without being allowed to contact a lawyer or his next of kin.
According to the daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, the police pressed charges of battery of a police officer against Mr Biedro?.
“It has been the victim who has had charges pressed against him,” Jacek Dubois, Mr Biedro?’s lawyer told the newspaper. “The accusation is comical, made by a comedian rather than a lawyer.”
Mr. Dubois added that the matter had been reported to the Warsaw ?ródmie?cie-Pó?noc Prosecutor’s Office.
Gazeta Wyborcza reported that, “according to the police, Mr Biedro? grabbed the policeman’s baton and then hit him in the face”.
“You know me, I’ve never displayed any aggression against anyone, and I’d certainly never display aggression against a uniformed police officer in full gear,” Mr Biedro? assured the newspaper.
Mr Biedro? suffered a spine injury, bruising and chafes.
“Regretfully, some police officers did not withstand the tension of the ensuing events and became violent,” Tomasz Szypu?a, president of KPH said in a statement issued today (Sunday).
“Robert Biedro?, member of the KPH Board and its former President, accidentally fell victim to this violent behaviour.
“He was apprehended and beaten, not only at the moment of arrest, but also later, when he was handcuffed in a police car. For over 20 hours he was not advised of the grounds of the apprehension, the police did not provide him with the record of apprehension and denied him contact with his lawyer and his next of kin.
“We are appalled and saddened by the conduct of the police. We fail to understand how such situations can still take place in a democratic state. For many years now, KPH has worked with the police to further improve the enjoyment of human rights and freedoms. On 11 November our trust in the police was abused. We demand that the misconduct of the officers be investigated and the perpetrators be punished.
“At the same time, we would like to thank many wonderful people for their support and help in this difficult time for Robert himself and for an entire community of people whose everyday work is an effort to effectively put into practice and protect human rights,” the statement concluded.