Jarosław Kurski is deputy editor-in-chief of the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza,” and Jerzy Wojcik is publisher of Gazeta Wyborcza.

The following text is an edited version of a commentary published on the front page of Gazeta Wyborcza on July 27.

This week, next to the name of our newspaper, we have put the sentence: “There is no freedom without solidarity.” We used it for the first time when we were reclaiming freedom back in 1989. It expressed our joint efforts to build a new state based on principles of democracy, solidarity and community.

Now it returns to our front page because the times in which we live yet again require this same noble message and commitment.

We are asking for your solidarity with all those who, for the past four years, have been subjected to different forms of exclusion by the current Polish authorities.

Authoritarian power constantly requires new enemies. The current government of the ruling Law and Justice party has attacked many targets, almost always members of vulnerable minority communities. It has stirred up resentment against refugees, protesters, women defending their reproductive rights, “Soros-controlled organizations,” young doctors, people with disabilities, schoolteachers and their pupils, Germans, Ukrainians and Jews.

These groups are being publicly discredited. The authorities strive to deprive them of dignity and in many cases take away their livelihoods.

On July 20, blood was shed as several thousand extreme nationalists, encouraged by some bishops, priests and Law and Justice politicians, attacked the Equality March in Bialystok, throwing stones and bottles at the participants, spitting on them, hitting and kicking them. We saw nationalist marches in which bullies with flares and Celtic crosses attacked young girls, kicking them in the head. We saw allegedly pious Catholics screaming "f--- off,” and we heard church representatives thanking the same people for their “patriotic demeanor and defense of Catholic values.” We witnessed the prolonged indifference of prosecutors and police when it comes to pursuing the aggressors. We are thus convinced that there is no other choice today but to stand on the right side of this divide.

We stand with those who were violently attacked while participating in the Equality March as well as with the members of the LGBT+ community. We will always be with those who are abused and humiliated, as well as with those whose fundamental rights are being denied. Our newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza, now returns to its original credo: “There is no freedom without solidarity.”

Today, the authoritarian power viciously attacks the LGBT+ community. Tomorrow it will find yet another scapegoat. As always, it will target some embattled minority, one that already suffers from exclusion and stigmatization. Supported by fanatics within the clergy, the authoritarian power prides itself in representing the majority, which it defines in terms of “healthy,” “heterosexual,” “Catholic,” “patriotic” and “authentic, regular Poles.” The historical analogies are chilling.

This situation brings to mind the darkest years of the 20th century. Once, people and shop windows in Europe were marked with a Star of David. Today, the Polish authorities are using the rainbow — a symbol of harmony, unity, community in diversity — to exclude and to stigmatize otherness.

We protest in the strongest terms. “There is no freedom without solidarity” expresses our newspaper’s stance of solidarity and unity with the growing number of excluded groups. Our entire editorial team, our 2.8 million readers of the print edition and the more than 8 million people reading us online are a community of people of solidarity. We have been on the side of freedom and solidarity since our newspaper’s beginning.

We need to show solidarity, or else no one will stand in protest when the authoritarian power comes after you, after me, after us. We need to stand with those who are beaten, not those who beat them.

Authoritarian states flourish not when bad people do bad things but when good people allow them.

Today we are asking fellow Poles and our friends abroad to join the movement of people of solidarity. Your position gives you the right to speak out loud when others are being hurt. We do not have an army to defend ourselves, but we have words that can help those who are being harassed. Your voice is valuable because it can open the eyes of those who still prefer to turn their heads and remain silent. Now is the time to call things by their names. Let us speak the truth about the situation of free Poles in their own country. Let us remember that there is no freedom without solidarity.

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