As part of our European Voices series, we are delighted to publish an open letter from Maria Anna Adamiuk. Maria Anna is a Warsaw native who is currently studying in Sussex in the United Kingdom. Maria Anna is concerned with the current direction that the Polish government is taking, in particular its decision this week to vote in favour of a bill which enables the appointment of judges by parliament rather than the National Judicial Council.
I was born with dual citizenship – Polish and New Zealand, but spent the majority of my life in Poland, and so I always, first and foremost, thought of myself as a Pole and a European. My mother was born in Poland under communism, my grandmother was born during the World War I, my great-grandmother was born during the 123-year-long period of time when Poland didn’t exist on world’s maps due to the partitions by Austria, Prussia and Russia. I was lucky, I was the first woman – in 9 generations – in my family to be born in a free and democratic country. I always took enormous pride in Polish history and the fact that my country finally restored its rightful place in the world order. I constantly kept educating my foreign friends by diminishing stereotypes about my motherland. I love the fact that one of the world’s oldest universities, built in 1364, is Polish. And I am proud that Copernicus, Maria Skłodowska-Curie, Fryderyk Chopin, Lech Wałęsa and John Paul II were Polish. And the fact that Poland was the 1st country in Europe, and the 3rd in the entire world, to adopt a written constitution (The 3rd May Constitution).
Two years ago I moved to England, seeking western education. I believed that even though Poland managed to level up economically with other developed countries in just 20 years after abolishing communism, mentally, Polish people stayed in the previous century. And so I thought that the firsthand experience of Western World would allow me to understand where the differences lie, so I could come back one day and help develop my homeland further. I wished to introduce the third wave of feminism, to ensure equal treatment regardless of gender and equal pay for the equal level competencies. I wanted to explain that we should all be feminists, as being one doesn’t mean that you hate men, but that you believe in social, political and economic equality of both men and women.
In October last year I screamed in rage when the democratically elected Polish Parliament took away from me my right to decide about my own body. I joined the initiative of the Polish Women on Strike on the 3rd October . I dressed in black on Black Monday. I shouted on the top of my lungs. And yet my right to abort pregnancy, even when a result of rape, even when it threatens my own life, was taken away from me.
Earlier this year in March a Polish MEP stated in the European Parliament that “women are less intelligent that men”, so it’s only natural for them to earn less. I was miserable and upset to hear this – once again, he was democratically elected by Polish voters, so it meant that there was a rather large group in Poland to share those beliefs.
But today, for the first time in my life, I am ashamed of Poland. I am ashamed of admitting out loud that I am Polish. I am afraid of what all the wonderful women of my family who fought for the Polish independence would say to me, should they still be here today. When looking at the Polish history I used to joke that one thing that Poles are truly good at are uprisings. That we do not know how to deal with free and wealthy country, and we let it be taken away from us. But once it’s done, we realise that we hate it when our freedom is stolen from us, so we start the unrest, set the country on fire, we protest and we rise. Today, I am ashamed of myself, for joking about it, rather than taking it seriously – I could have learnt from history and tried to prevent it. I should have learnt from history – just like Napoleon should have known from history not to go into Russia.So
today I beg. I beg Poles who claim not to be interested in politics to get interested. To speak up, to get involved, to start looking further than just after their own well-being, further than the end of their own noses. I beg all sorts of prominent and famous people who don’t want to get political in order not to lose their fans – to get political. You are in the spotlight – for once, use it for something that truly matters. If not for me, if not for Poland, then at least for your own children.
Today I beg the world. You stood still and did nothing when Austria, Prussia and Russia partitioned my country. When Hitler invaded Poland you got involved only after you yourself got invaded. You stood still and did nothing when the communists overtook my country. Moreover, when we got rid of them, instead of remembering the Solidarność, round table talks and Lech Wałęsa, you celebrated the Berlin Wall fall. I understand the explanation that it was none of your business and why you would rather not get involved. Let’s leave the past and concentrate on the present. Now, Poland is a member state of the European Union. Now, Poland is a member state of NATO. Now, in the era of globalisation, when such a country is experiencing the de facto coup d’etat, it is most certainly the democratic, free world’s business. I beg you, the people of the world, to speak up, to get involved, not to let my government strip me of my last remaining right – the still standing right to freedom of speech, as all the other rights have already been taken from me.