- February 21, 2013
The trial of Rev. Dariusz Stańczyk
On Wednesday, 20th February 2013, the Vilnius District Administrative Court (Vilniaus miesto apylinkės teismas) heard the case of Rev. Stańczyk. It is worth mentioning that Rev. Dariusz Stańczyk, the Scoutmaster of the Vilnius Scout Troop of St. Mary, on 22nd January of this year led the March of Freedom in Vilnius on the 150th anniversary of the outbreak of the January Uprising. The march of the Scouts, but also the supporters of the priest and the January Uprising sympathizers, was finished with a Mass on the Hill of Three Crosses. During the march, the organizer Rev. Stańczyk was asked by the police to show a permit for the organization of a mass event; due to the lack of the required document he was stopped and taken to the police station where the protocol of violation of public order was written. On Wednesday, 20th February, the court examined the case of ‘the violator’.
In token of the support of Rev. Stańczyk, several dozen people, mainly Scouts, gathered in the court. A round of applause accompanied the welcome of Rev. Oskaras Petras Volskis, the parish priest of Vandžiogala and Łabunowo in Kaunas district municipality. The priest – as he admitted – came to Vilnius to support Rev. Dariusz in person and to express opposition to the impersonal articles. According to Rev. Petras, it is bad that ‘more and more often, law stands in contradiction to values …’.
However, surprises were inevitable. The trial had been scheduled for 8.30, but it did not even start due to the absence of … a sworn translator. Rev. Dariusz Stańczyk is a Polish citizen and if he understands Lithuanian, he does not have a good command of it.
By the decision of judge Virginija Liudvinavičienė, the case was supposed to be adjourned to Friday, but it was announced that if the priest takes care of a sworn translator, the court is ready to examine the case the same day, that is on Wednesday in the afternoon. And that’s what happened. A sworn translator was found and at 4 p.m. the court set about examining the case.
At the trial, Rev. D. Stańczyk stressed that that was the first march that he organized on which he had not applied for permission from the Vilnius city municipality. The Independence Marathons (organized annually on 11th November), which were attended by larger amount of people, took place in conformity with suitable procedures. However, as the priest added, the procedures are more and more complicated and to comply with the bureaucratic regulations is sometimes beyond one person’s capabilities, either financial or organizational.
This time – according to the priest – there were three reasons to abandon efforts to get the permission.
The first one is extremely high price of the permission – from several hundred to over several thousand litas. The march was quite peaceful, it did not create any problems to road traffic and it did not cause a breach of the peace of the city dwellers (except for the people oversensitive to the Scout uniforms and to the Polish character of the event – editorial note). The event was quite spontaneous as well, since there was no telling how many people would like to take part in it.
The second decider for the priest’s resolution was the fact that a few days ago the municipal government had issued a permit to organize the equality march ‘For equality’ (‘Už lygybę’) in Vilnius. The costs of service and protection are over 200 thousand litas from a taxpayer’s pocket. Rev. Stańczyk, realizing the great injustice in it (also towards young people and the Christian values), decided not to follow the letter of law this time.
The next reason for the priest’s decision was the contradiction of the announcement made by the authorities that openly encouraged to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the January Uprising, yet they gave no support for the interested. ‘The January Uprising – that is the heroic revolt of Poles, Lithuanians, Byelorussians, the citizens of the whole People’s Republic of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The inheritors of these traditions and values are today all inhabitants of Vilnius and Lithuania’ – concluded Rev. D. Stańczyk.
Rev. Stańczyk assures that he will accept any punishment, he will settle it or carry out because ‘he wants to have a clean conscience also with regard to law’.
The final verdict in the case will be reached on 4th March.
Not only Rev. Dariusz Stańczyk has been punished for participating in the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the January Uprising. A similar fate befell a sympathizer of the January Uprising in Belarus, where, as everybody knows, the political situation is completely different. Moreover, on Wednesday 20th February, the court in Lida fined the chief of the Society Of Polish Culture Public Association in Lida, Aleksander Kołyszko, of 2,5 million of Belarusian rubles (about 1000 litas) for an attempt to pay homage on 22nd January to the participant of the January Uprising, Rev. Adam Falkowski.
On 22nd January in the evening, a dozen or so people – including the activists of the Society Of Polish Culture Public Association in Lida and school children learning Polish language – lighted candles on the grave of Rev. Falkowski, who was executed for the support of the January Uprising.
As soon as Aleksander Kołyszko began to make a speech at the grave of the insurgent, the policemen came, forbade further prayers and, recognizing the people’s presence as illegal gathering, they wrote down the names of the participants in the ceremony.
According to the Belarus gatherings act toughened in 2011, one has to get a permission from the local authorities for any gathering. Both the organizers and the participants in the illegal gatherings may face administrative and legal liability. Kołyszko said that he did not applied for the permission for gathering. ‘I still believe that no permit is necessary in such a place. A grave is a place for praying’ – he stressed.
Photos: Jan Wierbiel
Editing: Artur Kalczewski
Cooperation: Małgorzata Aleksandrowicz
Tłumaczenie Barbara Rożek w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Barbara Rożek the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.