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The defense of freedom

Witold Bereś

Edelman had strong ethical views, which attracted to him such individuals as Dalai Lama, Vaclav Havel, and John Paul 2, and was quoted by such heads of state as Bill Clinton who used Edelman thoughts to back his decision to use NATO in the Balkans in 1999. For Edelman, politics were not only about power play but also served as a means for pursuing an ethical mission and tools to propagate key values and ideals for the human being.

In August 2005, during the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the Solidarity movement, Edelman said: “The most importan thing is life. When there is life, the most important think is freedom. Freedom does not exist without democracy. The anniversary of the Solidarity Movement that we are celebrating today is a great hope to the people who are  oppressed and coerced today. They have come to us here seeking solidarity from Belarus, China, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan… We are their hope. But make no mistake! A man is not an angel and to have a peaceful revolution you need both sides willing to do so. People will spill a lot of blood before the ideas of Solidarity and Friendship embrace the entire world. It is our duty to help all those movements. Calling upon human rights alone will not establish justice.”

Edelman was consequently extending his activities beyond public addresses (he spoke, among others, in the European Parliament), and signing petitions for democracy and against oppression (which were needed nevertheless for oftentimes they brought fruit).

When it was necessary Edelman would turn his words into practice, just like he did in 1993 when he joined a convoy with humanitarian aid for besieged Sarajevo. He jumped on the track despite his advanced age. He did so, because for him the fight for freedom was about personal, direct engagement for both the rights of nations, social groups as well as individuals. This is why he was vocative about the rights of the Tibetans, Cubans and Kosovars, but also he stood for the rights of a teacher engaged in Jewish-Polish debates, who was stalked by nationals; and for a Rome (Gypsy) who was threatened with a lynch by his neighbors.

Doing this, Edelman always underlined that freedom has its limits: it must not lead to somebody else’s harm and must not advocate hatred. He believed that both freedom and democracy have not been given for ever—they both require constant backing.



We will support various initiatives who aim at broadening the spheres of freedom and democracy. We will be vocative about cases of limiting and abusing freedoms as well as suppressing and abusing democracy. In this mission we will cooperate with both our friends, active through other citizen initiatives, and friendly public instituions.