Poland Opposes Visit by White Supremacist Richard Spencer

By Jenilyn Brhel
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

WARSAW, Poland – Richard Spencer, the American white nationalist, is not welcome in Poland.

Richard Spencer. Photo Courtesy of David J. Phillip.

The Polish government has issued statements condemning Spencer’s views as a threat to democracy and objecting to his upcoming visit to Warsaw. Foreign minister Witold Waszczykowski stated that Spencer should not appear publicly in Poland, describing him as someone who “defames what happened during World War II, defames the Holocaust.”

Spencer is the white supremacist who organized the Charlottesville, Virginia rally that killed a counter-protestor in August after the rally turned violent. He has since held other rallies and is looking to expand his message to Europe.

He was invited by several far-right Polish organizations to speak at a conference in Warsaw that took place on November 10th. The National Social Congress announced that Spencer would speak at a panel discussion during its “Europe of Future” meeting. The annual conference is organized by the far-right to celebrate Polish Independence Day. In past years, marches held on November 11th by far-right extremists were some of the largest extremist gatherings in Europe.

Spencer’s followers consist of members of the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and white supremacists. They support his condemnation of diversity and embrace his far-right ideologies including nationalism, racism and anti-Semitism. Studies show that anti-Semitism and xenophobia is on the rise in Poland, which will likely help Spencer draw an audience there.

The government had been pressured to prevent Spencer from speaking at the event. “Spencer’s views strike not only the Jewish community or other minority groups. The hatred that Spencer and his followers proclaim is a threat to all who are close to the values of human rights and democracy,” said Agnieszka Markiewicz, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Central European office.

When the Polish Border Guard was contracted regarding the issue, a spokeswoman declined to divulge any information, citing privacy regulations. Spencer did not end up attending.

In 2014, Hungary Spencer’s think tank, the National Policy Institute, was prevented from holding a conference. When Spencer defied the ban, he was arrested, deported and banned from entering Europe’s 26 visa-free countries for three years.

The Polish Foreign Ministry said “As a country which was one of the biggest victims of Nazism, we believe that the ideas promoted by Mr. Spencer and his followers could pose a threat to all those who hold dear the values of human rights and democracy.”

For more information, please see:

The Guardian – Poland to Richard Spencer – Keep Out – 27 October 2017

The New York Times – Poland Objects to Visit by White Nationalist Richard Spencer – 27 October 2017

Newsweek – Richard Spencer is too Racist for Poland’s Right-Wing Government – 27 October 2017

The Washington Times – Poland Opposes Visit From Richard Spencer, White Nationalist and Charlottesville Rally Participant – 27 October 2017

Czech Republic Outlaws Political Party

By Kenneth F. Hunt
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

PRAGUE, Czech Republic – The highest court in the Czech Republic banned a right-wing political party this week, allegedly to protect Czech democracy. This is the first time that a party has been banned in the country for reasons other than financial irregularities since the country broke away from Slovakia in 1993.

The Czech Republic’s Supreme Administrative Court (NSS) outlawed the Workers’ Party on Wednesday February 17 based on factual findings that indicated a history of using racist and xenophobic language and related violence.

The Court felt that, specifically, homophobic and anti-Semitic language and a checkered history of violence towards gypsy groups constituted a were indicative  threat to Czech democracy.  The Court also linked the Workers’ Party to neo-Nazi and other white supremacy groups. Judge Vojtech Simicek rationalized the decision “as a preventive one”, necessary “to maintain the constitutional and democratic order in the future.”

In 2008, the government unsuccessfully attempted to ban the Worker’s Party, but a trial court dismissed the government’s petition.

For sure, the Workers’ Party has a history of “overzealous” protesting. In particular,  the Workers’ Party has often been involved with organizing and staging anti-gypsy communities in close proximity to Roma communities. These events, according to various press accounts, “typically” end in violence.

For example, in November 2008, 500 or more Worker’s Party members protested in the town of Litvinov. When the group attempted to march on a Roma suburb, some 1,000 riot police were called to diffuse the situation. Seven police and seven demonstrators were injured as a result.

The Workers’ Party has already launched an effort to appeal the decision. Workers’ Party leader Tomas Vandas says that the result was entirely political and designed to exclude the Party from national elections in May, calling the timing “highly suspicious”.

Mr. Vandas also disputed links to neo-Naziism or white supremacy, claiming there is “absolutely nothing” in the Party’s manifesto that indicates these extreme views.

Workers’ Party officials said that even if an appeal does not succeed, the Party will dissolve and regroup under a different name. Mr. Vandas suggested that the Party may now be called the Affiliated Workers’ Social Justice Party.

The Workers’ Party is normally unsuccessful in gaining a significant share of votes in Czech elections. For example, in 2008, only 1% of the electorate voted for Worker’s Party.

Nonetheless, political commentators and human rights group are worried that the NSS ruling will give the government precedent to dismantle other anti-establishment political parties, like the Communist Party which won 14 percent of the vote in 2009 elections.

For more information, please see:

EU OBSERVER – Czech court bans far-right Workers Party – 19 February 2010

BBC – Far-right Czech Workers’ Party to challenge court ban – 18 February 2010

NEW YORK TIMES – Czech Court Bans Far-Right Party – 18 February 2010

PRAGUE POST – Despite ban, Workers Party vows to go on – 17 February 2010