The right-wing Senate of the Polish Parliament recently passed the controversial ‘Holocaust Bill’ in face of quite a bit of criticism.
The Bill – which was tabled in the Senate a couple of weeks ago – states that if someone mentions the concentration camps set up by the Nazis in Poland as Polish, he/she would face an imprisonment of three years.
For long, the ruling Law and Justice Party had been trying to criminalise claims of the eastern European country’s complicity in the holocaust. Finally, the Senate approved the contentious Bill, thus, criminalising acts blaming Poland or its people for complicity in Nazi war crimes. While 57 senators voted for the Bill, 23 voted against, with two preferring to abstain.
As expected, the Bill (read newly passed law) drew strong rebuke not only from the Jewish organisations, but also from partners of the ruling coalition in Poland. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed anger over the Bill, saying: “Israel has no tolerance for the distortion of the truth, the rewriting of history and the denial of the Holocaust.” In a statement, the Israeli government said: “The legislation will not help continue exposing the historical truth and can impede the freedom of research.”
The US, too, expressed serious concern over the move made by the Polish senate, with State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert saying: “The history of the Holocaust is painful and complex. We understand that phrases such as ‘Polish death camps’ are inaccurate, misleading, and hurtful. We are concerned, however, that if enacted this draft legislation could undermine free speech and academic discourse.”
Nauert further urged the Polish politicians to reconsider their decision, stressing that the global community “should not inhibit discussion and commentary on the Holocaust”. She was of the opinion that “inaccurate and hurtful speech” could be countered through open debate, scholarship and education.
Experts are of the opinion that the Polish Senate passed the Bill at a time when right-wing, anti-immigration parties became active in Europe. The Law and Justice Party is one of them. “It is a duty of every Pole to defend the good name of Poland. We, the Poles, were victims, as were the Jews,” argued Beata Szydło, a senior leader of the ruling party.
Szydło is right, as it seems that the newly introduced law will allow migrants to enjoy free meals in Polish jails for at least three years!
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