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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

On World Day Against the Death Penalty, and Poland vs. the European Union

Today is the World Day Against the Death Penalty. The United Nations General Assembly is presently considering a resolution in support of a worldwide moratorium on this brutal practice.

Please visit the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty and sign the petition in favor of the UN resolution.

Much has been made in English-speaking media of the Polish government's refusal to join the European Union in observing this day. Poland objects that it is hypocritical to oppose the death penalty while supporting rights to abortion and euthanasia.

Being proudly of Polish blood myself, the descendant of Poles who left their homeland because it was occupied by hostile forces...I decidedly do not want to join in the undercurrent of "there go those backward, unwashed, anti-modern Polish bozos again" that characterizes some responses to this protest.

That much said...I think the Polish government would bear much more effective and credible witness to the indivisibility of human rights if:

(1) It left off its own attempts to overturn its current ban on the death penalty and

(2) It joined in the death penalty abolition day, while simultaneously bearing witness to the interconnectedness of all right to life issues...including women's rights to life and abundant life.

I wrote the following letter to Polskie Radio in Warszawa/Warsaw. I'm speaking here as a Polish American, a world citizen, someone who has lost people to violent crime, someone with loved ones whose family member was wrongfully convicted and almost executed, someone who stands in solidarnosc/solidarity with the African Americans in my predominantly Black neighborhood...among other heartfelt things...

It is not an imposed, secular European value to stand up for lives on
death row.

It is not a matter of defending traditonal Polish Catholic values to stand
up for lives in the womb and the lives of disabled and sick persons.

For people of all nations, for people of all religions and none---it is a
matter of *universal human rights* to stand up for every life, before,
during, and ever after birth.

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