Three women in Poland, identified only as Elżbieta, Anna and Joanna are currently on trial for “offending religious beliefs”, PinkNews reported. If found guilty of this crime, the three women could face jail sentences of two years, each.

The three women are facing jail time after sharing posters of the Virgin Mary with a rainbow-coloured halo.

The first hearing takes places on Wednesday, November 4. Amnesty International as well as a number of other leading human rights organisations have joined over 140,000 people in campaigning for Polish authorities to dismiss the case ahead of this hearing.

Amnesty International has stated that “the case against them is not unique but an example of the repeated harassment activists and human rights defenders face, simply for carrying out peaceful activism in Poland, which Polish and international human rights organisations have documented and denounced at length in the last several years.”

The three women are no strangers to activism. In May 2019 one of the women, Elżbieta Podlesna, had her home raided by police after circulating the same image, which is based on the Mother of God of Czestochowa painting. Prior to police raiding her home, where they found copies of the image, she had placed the image around the city of Plock in public places, including areas near St Dominik’s church.

Prior to this, Podlesna had been on an international trip with Amnesty International.

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 Amnesty International’s regional Europe Researcher Barbora Cernusakova stated that “given the lack of evidence of a crime here, we can only see that Elżbieta has been detained for her peaceful activism.”

According to PinkNews, Amnesty International also stated in 2019 that “Amnesty International calls on the Polish authorities to stop harassing peaceful protesters and activists in Poland, including by arbitrarily arresting people who stand up for their rights. Restricting activists from freely expressing their views in the country is unlawful and must stop immediately.”

This comes as protests occur throughout Poland in response to the proposed abortion ban, which will further restrict laws around abortion in Poland, where they are already more strict than many countries in Europe. The ruling on the proposed abortion plan has been delayed as a result of the protests.

Poland’s Interior Minister Joachim Brudzinski has previously praised the “efficient action” taken by police when they raided Podlesna’s home in 2019, stating that “no fairy tale about freedom and ‘tolerance’ gives ANYONE the right to offend the feelings of believers.”

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