A Pole's plea to the free world
Remarks by a visiting professor of literature at Harvard University and prominent Polish dissident at the Harvard rally ''Solidarity with Solidarnosc'' on Dec. 16.
While I am speaking these words, my closest friends in Poland are under arrest. My former students maybe just now are being beaten up by the police. The striking workers are being attacked by military troops using clubs and watercannons. There were unconfirmed reports about some shootings in Warsaw and other cities. All human and civil rights have been violated. Every Polish citizen faces the death penalty if he refuses to obey the orders of General Jaruzelski's military junta. Polish borders are sealed, the news blackout is nearly total. Behind the curtain of silence every possible crime can be committed by Jaruzelski's mercenaries.
All of this is happening to people whose only dream is for some basic freedom and democracy in their own country. All of this is happening to a movement which never resorted to violence and the existence of which was perfectly legal. All of this is happening to a nation which, after 35 years ot totalitarian oppression, seemed to have regained its hope and moral strength. All of this is happening to a working class which for the first time in the history of the communist bloc seemed to have found an effective way of defending its rights.
At the same time Western opinion speculates as to whether or not the present situation in Poland is ''an internal Polish affair.'' As I learned from today's newspaper, several schools of political analysis have managed to emerge: one of them ''holds that General Jaruzelski genuinely believes that his action is the last chance to forestall Soviet intercession''; another ''suggests that Jaruzelski is merely pretending to go along with Soviet advice, but actually means to impose a military government . . . free of . . . extremists of all stripes''; still another wonders if maybe things are a little bit more complex, etc.
All this is very fine and makes me admire the subtlety of the Western political thought. The things I have in mind are not so subtle. I am just thinking about some simple and terrifying things: about people whose lives are in danger and about hopes that right now are being destroyed.
Let me put one thing straight. The question of whether the Soviets are involved is purely academic. Moreover, it is naive. In some cases it is also a symptom of hypocrisy. There is no ''internal Polish affair'' when the lives of innocent people are at stake, when human rights are being violated, when budding democracy is crushed by a military junta. For everyone with a little sense, it is absolutely clear that the Soviets are involved. But this is not the point. Even if they were not involved, even if the dirty work were to be done with Polish hands, there is no justification for leaving Poland to her fate.
After crushing one of the Polish uprisings in the 19th century, a tsarist diplomat reported to Western governments: ''L'ordre reigne a Varsovie.'' Shall we wait till another man in a Polish or Soviet uniform tells us once again that he restored the order in Warsaw?
Let us remember one simple thing: there will be no calm and order in that remote, yet close corner of the world as long as people are killed or persecuted , as long as basic laws are being violated, as long as people are denied their rights to freedom and democracy. Even from a pragmatic point of view Jaruzelski's action cannot be justified. His attempt at ''restoring order'' in Poland by destroying Solidarity is a threat to world peace. It should be not only condemned; it should be also met by an effective protest on the part of the free world.