Protest against Polish Government’s chicanery

19/8/2003 Protest against Polish Government’s chicanery

For those who want to do something about Polish Government’s ridiculous passport and citizenship laws, we present a proposed letter of protest:

Dear Sir/Madam,
(or Dear Prime Minister, Dear Minister, Dear Member, Dear Congressman, Dear Senator etc., as appropriate for the addressee’s position)

I write with the purpose of bringing to your attention a rarely publicised and highly contentious matter of an existing conflict between the citizenship laws of Australia (United States, Canada) and those of the Republic of Poland. I seek your assistance in resolving this issue. Leaving it unresolved threatens to create a major precedent of an unchallenged hostile treatment of some Australians (Americans, Canadians) by a foreign power.

As you are probably aware, many Polish-Australians (Polish-Americans, Polish-Canadians etc.) who have happily settled in this country, have proudly adopted the Australian (American, Canadian etc.) citizenship as their own. It is natural, and indeed desirable in some circumstances, that migrants who become naturalised citizens might want to renounce their previous nationality, so as not to give rise to the notion of potential conflict of loyalties and underscore their conscious, informed and often enthusiastic choice to become Australians (Americans, Canadians).

Most countries recognise that personal decisions leading to acquisition of another nationality rightfully belong in the sphere of sovereign rights of an individual, and regulate the processes for voluntary renunciation of the birth citizenship accordingly. That, unfortunately, is not the case of Poland. Despite notionally abandoning the cause of Communism some 14 years ago, Poland continues to cling to the notion of stringent control of the state over individual, derived from the long vanquished ideology. Avenues of voluntary renunciation of birth citizenship by Polish nationals naturalised in other countries have been and remain severely and deliberately restricted by the Polish law.

The main body of the Polish law in question dates back to 1962, when Communism in Poland was arguably at its peak. The law was designed at the time to convey the Communist state view of renunciation of Polish citizenship as being an act close to treason. The law had created legal grounds for the Communist state to demand unfettered and perpetual allegiance from all its nationals, no matter what their personal circumstances or location.

Strangely enough, amendments to the citizenship law enacted since the 1989 downfall of Communism in Poland have been largely cosmetic, and mostly limited to updating the terminology. While Poland claims to have recognised the right of the individual to change citizenship, the procedure of voluntary renunciation has been eased up minimally, if at all: from the deliberately hostile, to the deliberately burdensome and deliberately impractical. Sadly, the main objective remains the same: to discourage, prevent and/or punish individual attempts to renounce Polish citizenship.

The awkwardness of this situation is compounded by Poland mandating in her citizenship laws, and enforcing in practice, an extreme form of ‘ius sanguini’, or “blood law” – an involuntary passing down of Polish citizenship by descent to any person born of at least one parent with Polish nationality, without limitation as to time or generation of descendants. Thus any person with Polish ancestors, however distant, is currently deemed by Polish law to be a Polish citizen subject to sovereign powers of the Republic of Poland, regardless of the place of birth, place of permanent abode, mother tongue, or citizenship of another country.

One would have expected that with Poland becoming a member of NATO in 1999, and scheduled to become a member of the European Union in May 2004, the outdated authoritarian notion of the state ‘ownership of subjects’, would have long been replaced by more modern and inclusive Western legal and social concepts. Sadly, this has not been the case to date.

A Presidential Decree issued on 14 March 2000 by the President of Poland, Mr Alexander Kwasniewski, has established a process for voluntary renunciation of Polish citizenship. Under the guise of updating the previous regulations, the Decree mandates a process so arcane as to be insurmountable in practice for many applicants. The procedure of renunciation has been designed to be more burdensome in many respects than a process leading to naturalisation of a foreign national in Poland, in itself not a simple matter.

Under the terms of the Decree, the Polish Presidency assumes the right of executive fiat over the citizen’s right to renounce the Polish nationality, guaranteed by Section 34 of the Polish Constitution. Voluntary renunciation of citizenship has no legal effect unless approved in writing by the President of Poland, acting personally, as this power of the Presidency is not delegated. The Presidential decision is delivered by means of an individual Executive Order, specific to the individual. The decision is non-reviewable and cannot be appealed to Polish courts. The President is not bound by any time frame, nor obliged to make any decision at all; there is no requirement that any reasons for the decision be provided to the applicant. These factors alone set the Polish renunciation process as unique among civilised nations. I am aware of no other modern example, anywhere in the world, of a legal requirement to petition a Head of State for an individual permission to avail oneself of one’s constitutional right.

While the Polish Constitution does state elsewhere that “the President of Poland confers Polish citizenship and approves requests to renounce Polish citizenship”, it is arguable that the Presidential power to approve (or, by implication, not approve) renunciation of citizenship by natural born Polish citizens has never been intended to be any more than ceremonial. Citizenship by birth or descent is acquired automatically, not granted to natural born citizens by the state. The state should not therefore claim the right to restrict, ration or manipulate the access of such citizens to their constitutional right of renunciation.

In any event, applicants for renunciation of Polish citizenship are in many instances effectively deterred from accessing the Presidential prerogative of approval by a bizarre administrative procedure, specifically designed with intimidation and humiliation in mind. Lodgment of a petition requires prior registration with Polish civil records authority of any and all marriages contracted outside Poland, and all records of birth of any children born to the applicant outside Poland. Likewise, all foreign divorces are to be validated by Polish courts. In some instances, this requires re-litigation in Polish courts of foreign divorce cases, some of them decades old.. Such practice is in defiance of the accepted international principle that, except in cases of reasonable suspicion of malpractice such as bigamy, involuntary marriage/divorce, or fraudulent marriage, a marital union or divorce lawfully registered as valid in one jurisdiction is recognised as such in another.

The applicant is also expected to furnish, for an unexplained purpose, a detailed curriculum vitae in Polish, in own handwriting. This particular requirement is an impossible feat for many of the second and further generations of Polish migrant descendants, who no longer have a fluent enough command of the Polish language. Enormously detailed application forms seeking details of the applicant’s parents, children and spouses, last place of residence in Poland, involvement in military service, past and present employment etc. are also required.

Last, but not least, the Polish state requires up-to-date facial photographs of the applicant, also for an unknown purpose. Prohibitively expensive administrative fees are charged at every step of the complex procedure, with a clear intent of discouraging the application well before it advances to the stage of a Presidential decision. Further, the procedure involves making recommendations to the Presidency by Polish state officials having no direct or indirect knowledge of the applicant’s circumstances.

In many cases, the prerequisite for receiving the petition by a Polish Embassy or Consulate, which then forwards it for further indefinite processing in Poland, has been an acquisition of a valid Polish passport. This requires only slightly less arcane a procedure, spanning 6 to 9 months.

Holding a foreign passport is deemed an act of foreign preference by national security regulations of Australia (the USA, Canada), which preclude federal Government employees, members of Australian (US, Canadian) Armed Forces and certain others from doing so. Thus a bitter paradox and a policy trap is created by the Polish Government for first generation migrants, as well as for native born Australians (Americans, Canadians) with Polish migrant parents. Applicants in the employment of their Governments cannot divest themselves of the Polish citizenship which may jeopardise their Australian (American, Canadian) security vetting, without committing an act actively jeopardising that very vetting and, consequently, their employment and their careers.

The petitioners are not spared further humiliations. In order to be accepted as supporting documentation for the petition to the President of Poland, all foreign birth and marriage certificates must not only be translated into Polish, notarised and ‘legalised’ by Polish Consulates, but must also be re-issued by the relevant Polish civil records authority. This is done in the form prescribed by the Polish law, and in the Polish language.

In the course of this process, the Polish authorities apply an act similar in concept to the infamous “ethnic cleansing”. All foreign given names are arbitrarily “Polonised”, ie. crudely rendered into Polish, according to their nearest Polish language equivalent. Thus Siobhan becomes Joanna, John becomes Jan and Josephine becomes Józefina. Surnames are equally arbitrarily rendered into Polish grammar: Siobhan Kowalski becomes Joanna Kowalska, in deference to the rules of gender in Polish grammar, and in complete contempt of the official content of civil records of Australia (the USA, Canada). All this applies equally to children, grandchildren, and further removed descendants of Polish migrants, forming a worldwide diaspora variously estimated at 9 to 13 million, for the most part having no personal connection with Poland other than ancestry.

In sum, the peculiar procedure of petitioning the Polish President for a personal and individual permission to avail oneself of one’s constitutional right to voluntarily renounce one’s Polish citizenship, stands as an exact opposite of the Western administrative transparency, and has no parallel in Western law or administrative practice of the state. Instead, it replicates – in a decree issued by a NATO member state in the year 2000! – many traits of Soviet-style supplications expected of a citizen in the bygone era of Eastern European Communism.

As an Australian (American, Canadian) citizen, taxpayer and voter I seek your personal intervention in this matter. It would be most appreciated if you could convey to the Government of Poland or its official representatives in Australia (the USA, Canada), with force and clarity, that petty chicanery directed by the Polish Government at Australians (Americans, Canadians) of Polish origin is incompatible with the Western governance standards Poland aspires to, and will not be tolerated. It should not be rewarded by improved political relations or economic advantages accruing to Polish politicians whose ostentatious revelry at their purportedly successful transition from authoritarianism to democracy is contradicted by their resistance to the notion of self-determination of individuals of Polish birth or ancestry as nationals of another country.



The above letter was composed by Stary Wiarus and sent to CyberExpress by Neptuno, who added this coment:
“Tekst angielski zostal opracowany przez Pana Starego Wiarusa ktoremu pragne za te pomoc serdecznie podziekowac. Kompetencja i perfekcja to jedyne co moge dodac.”

(C) CyberExpress

See related articles:
Compulsory Citizens of the non-conscious kind
Mr Mizieliński sends his regards

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Ale kobyla (Onufry) 19/8/2003
Stary Wiarusie, Kto taka dluga kobyle bedzie czytal. Kazdy sznujacy sie urzedas wrzuci to do kosza. Protesty powinny byc krotkie zwiezle i “to the point”, a nie Tolstoyowska powiesc.

kontakty w USA/Kanadzie (007) 20/8/2003
Podziekowania dla p. Starego Wiarusa za przygotowanie tego dokumentu. Ponizej zamieszczam adresy emailowe osob powiazanych w rzadach i parlamentach USA i Kanady ze sprawami zagranicznymi. Dobrze byloby upublikowac podobne spisy dla innych krajow z liczna reprezentacja Polonii, w szczegolnosci dla Australii. (Lepiej sformatowana liste mozna znalezc w ) * USA The Honorable Richard Cheney Vice President of the United States of America Secretary of State Colin L. Powell Deputy Secretary — Richard L. Armitage Under Secretary for Political Affairs — Marc Grossman Under Secretary for Global Affairs — Paula J. Dobriansky Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Senator Richard Lugar, Ranking Minority Member Senator Joseph R Biden Jr., U.S. House of Representatives Committee on International Relations Chairman Henry J. Hyde, Subcommittee on Europe Chairman Doug Bereuter, American Enterprise Institute Danielle Pletka Vice President, Foreign and Defense Policy Studies Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow, Director of Foreign and Defense Policy Studies * CANADA Right Hon. Jean Chrétien The Prime Minister of Canada Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Bill Graham Secretary of State (Central and Eastern Europe and Middle East) Hon. Gar Knutson Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs Chair Peter A. Stollery, Deputy-Chair Consiglio Di Nino, House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade Chair Bernard Patry, Vice-chairs Stockwell Day, Hon. Diane Marleau, Subcommittee on Human Rights and International Development of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade Chair Irwin Cotler, Vice-chairs Colleen Beaumier, Deepak Obhrai,

Ale kobyla (Stan) 20/8/2003
Solidna robota, SW. Rozumiem, ze to baza, z ktorej kazdy moze skorzystac, wstawiajac to co, uwaza za sluszne. Np Onufry moze napisac tylko dwa zdania. proponuje przygotowac krotaka wersje i zalacznik z rozwinieciem – dla mniej sprawnych literacko.

Kazdy urzedas??? (Lutek) 20/8/2003
Uwaga Onufrego o ‘kazdym urzedasie’ odnosi sie do urzednikow w Polszcze, tutaj (USA)przekonalem sie ze oni raczej wnikliwie czytaja to co do nich obywatelstwo pisze. Ja juz nie mam zamiaru wypisywac listow do wladz warszawskich. Zarty sie skonczyly.

Protest, wersja angielska. (Tomcio) 21/8/2003
Jest dużym uzupełnieniem dla Polakow , którzy słabo znają język polski. Jest rzeczą zupwełnie normalną , że Polak urodzony w obcym kraju może znać tylko dwa słowa w języku polskim ; “mama” i “tata”. To tylko krótka informacja dla Polaków żyjących w kraju i czytających Cyber Express. Nawet w małżeństwach czysto polskich dzieci same wybierają np. język angielski jako środek komunikacji i wewnątrz rodziny też. W przedszkolu obowiązuje jezyk danego kraju, w szkole jest to samo. Naturalna postać rzeczy i nie widzę powodu do rozdzierania szat. Patrzę jednak perspektywicznie i widzę ogromne problemy takich właśnie dzieci w wypadku odwiedzin kraju pochodzenia rodziców. Jest to przedmiotem naszej wspólnej sprawy zwiazanej z “wiecznym obywatelstwem polskim” , ale tylko dla tych , którzy mieszkają w bogatych i demokratycznych krajach. Dla tych , którzy urodzili się w biednych krajach przymusu takiego i wg tego samego prawa nie ma, mało tego, oni nawet nie mają szans uzyskania polskiego obywatelstwa. Protest, którego autorami są znani nam z komentarzy Panowie Neptuno i Stary Wiarus spełnili oczekiwania światowej Polonii. Co na to cała wielomilionowa Polonia? Osobiście pragnę przekazać moje słowa uznania i gratulacje, jak również wyrazy największego uznania od rzeszy przyjaciół z wielu krajów świata i wymienię tylko te z których napłynęło najwięcej słów otuchy i dobrych chęci poparcia : Z Anglii ,Argentyny, Australii, Brazylii, Canady, Columbii, Danii, krajów Arabskich, krajów skandynawskich , Francji, Hiszpanii, Włoch, Polski, USA, Federacji Rosyjskiej i krajów byłego S.U. i wielu innych. Wkrótce nadejdą też i listy wysłane pocztą. To tylko reakcja na listy , które wysłałem informując Polaków o istniejącej sytuacji. Pamietamy kilku Panów , którzy włożyli wielki wkład w sprawę rozwiazania zagadki paszportowej zadanej przez rząd w Warszawie i teraz musimy udzielić im pomocy polegającej na zwykłym poparciu. Nie, nie, jako strona przeciwna nie potrzebujemy wsparcia finansowego i pieniędzy (było wiele pytań i nawet ofert pomocy finansowej). Nie możemy wpadać w ten sam ton.., a najbardziej w ton przekupstwa (korupcji) i interesu prywatnego. Świetnie napisany protest jednoznacznie sugeruje tylko prawne i duchowe żądania. Dbajmy więc aby szable nie rdzewiały i szukajmy jedności w naszych dążeniach. Serdecznie pozdrawiam wszystkich tych , którzy czytają Cyber Express, nowości i komentarze i to na całym świecie.

Adresy do EU (John Kowalski) 21/8/2003
Uwazam ze najskuteczniej bedzie wyslac tekst angielski do bezposrednio zainteresowanych stanem prawnym w Polsce – do EU. Polska wchodzi do Unii a to wiaze sie ze szczegolowym “przeswietleniem” prawnym nowego czlonka. Poza tym EU to rozbudowana biurokracja ktorej urzednicy ciesza sie dobrymi zarobkami i chetnie podejma nowe projekty dla zapewnienia sobie kontynuacji zatrudnienia. Z powodu lepszej czytelnosci postow na stronach Wirtualnej Polonii podaje link do adresow do EU ktore tam umiescilem: Chcialbym w zwiazku z tematem czytelnosci postow uprzejmie zasugerowac i poprosic Redakcje CyberExpresu zeby rozwazyla mozliwosc NIE USUWANIA LINE BREAKS poniewaz ich brak czyni nasze posty malo czytelne. Tekst staje sie monolitycznym blokiem. PLEASE, PLEASE!

Podziekowanie dla S.Wiarusa. (Mister) 22/8/2003
Osobiscie skladam podziekowanie dla Starego Wiarusa jak forumowicz “007”. Zgadzam sie z wypowiedzia forumowicza “Tomcio”.Jest bardzo wielu ludzi pochodzenia polskiego dla ktorych jezyk Polski jest praktycznie jezykiem drugim.Do ktorego a tym bardziej z takim podejsciem wladz kraju nad wisla nie beda przywiazywali zbytniej wagi. Sam staram sie jak moge doiformowac Polakow o sytuacji jaka jest zapisana czyli prawo ktore jest wlasnie “pulapka paszportowa”. Sa rozne reakcje i dlatego jest troche ciezko ale zapewniam ze sa postepy w dobrym kierunku. Czyli to ze teraz nazwa jest III RP wcale sie niezbyt zmienilo od PRL. Takie postepowanie wladz Polski jest ciagloscia zamordyzmu i podpozadkowania sobie kazdego kto ma tylko pochodzenie polskie i ma odwage zjawic sie i stanac na tej ziemi. Jestem wewnetrznie przekonany ze czas pracuje na nasza korzysc czyli tych ktorzy znajduja sie poza granicami Polski. Jest nas coraz wiecej i przyjdzie moment ze bedzie bardzo duzo a w takiej chwili inaczej beda postepowac ci ktorzy mysla tylko o zamordyzmie. Mister

panie Mister (ranger) 26/8/2003
…tylko nie caluj Wiarusa po rekach…

Obywatelstwo (Marian) 28/8/2003
Jesli rzad polski wymaga od nas obywateli Australi paszport polski to rzad Australi nie powinien wpuszczac nikogo z polski jesli nie wyrobi sobie paszport Australijski wlacznie z Ambasada.Moze wjechac ale wyjechac bedzie trudniej jesli za to porzadnie nie zaplaci to jest moje zdanie Marian

do Mariana (ranger) 30/8/2003
…podobnego kretynizmu dawno nie czytalem…

Do rangera (czemu sie nie podpiszesz?) (Stan ( 3/9/2003
Psy szczekaja a karawana jedzie dalej. Pomysl o tym. Marian ma prawo by wyrazic oburzenie. Ty masz prawo do karawany, lub… poszczekac

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