Tomasz Wacko (pronounced Vah-ts-koh) died exactly three years ago. Until yesterday I didn’t even know he existed.
He was an opposition (”Solidarnosc”) activist from Poland, who found refuge in Norway and became a prominent human rights activist at the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, also devoting a lot of time and effort to the democracy cause in Belarus. And then in 2003, totally unexpectedly, he died from the hands of … the Norwegian police.
Unfortunately, there’s very little information in English about the circumstances of his death. It’s as if someone is trying hard to cover it up. Here are some bits and pieces that I’ve found:
The Wacko case: Police charged with involuntary manslaughter
Tomasz Wacko, known to his large number of friends both in Norway, Poland and throughout Central and Eastern Europe, as Tomek, was only 44 years old when he died under terribly tragic circumstances earlier this year. To his premature death, however, there is also an element of almost unbelievably cruel irony. From his years in the then permanently persecuted Polish underground opposition, Tomek had survived numerous clashes with General Jaruzelski´s Police, Army and Security Forces, and also two periods behind bars, during which he became a natural leader for his fellow prisoners of conscience. After fourteen years in Norway, twelve of them spent as a full-time human rights activist, he died at the hands of the Norwegian Police.
Here are three news sources in Norwegian that I’ve found:
• Død av oksygenmangel (Dead from oxygen deficiency?) “Han overlevde mye, unntatt norsk politi. Han reddet mange, unntatt seg selv.” An article in a popular Norwegian newspaper “Dagbladet.”
• Politimann tiltalt for drap. An article in another popular Norwegian newspaper “Aftenposten.”
• Dødsfall i Politiets varetekt. Apparently it’s a collection of stories about police violence and crimes committed by Norwegian policemen, and some of the material, as far as I could understand was about Tomasz Wacko’s case.
If someone who speaks Norwegian could make a short English summary of these articles, I would be very thankful.
I’ve also found some information in Polish and Belarusan:
Tomek Wacko (1958-2003) historyk, obrońca praw człowieka, polityk. Od 1990 rok w Norwegii pracuje w Komitecie Helsińskim. Pomaga organizacjom i ruchom walczącym o prawa człowieka w krajach b.ZSRR. Znany i popularny wśród działaczy politycznych i społecznych w Rosji, Czeczeni, Ukrainie, Białorusi. W 2003 roku umiera w szpitalu w Oslo po absurdalnej i brutalnej interwencji norweskich policjantów.
My translation: “Tomek Wacko (1958), a historian, human rights activist and politician. From 1990 he worked at the Norwegian Helsinki committee. He was helping human rights movements in the former USSR. He was well-known in the political circles in Russia, Chechnya, Ukraine and Belarus. In 2003 he died at the hospital in Oslo after an absurd and brutal intervention of the Norwegian police.”
And one of the comments at some online forum from someone with a nickname kLaudiusz:
policja norweska to chuje!…sam doswiadczylem tego, gdy spalem sobie spokojnie w samochodzie na parkingach a te cioty sie do mnie przypieprzaly…tym wieksze bylo moje wkurwienie gdy Jacob powiedzial mi o okolicznosciach jego smierci!
Approximate translation: “Norwegian police are dickheads! I myself can testify to that, when I was calmly sleeping in my car on a parking lot and those idiots bothered me… That’s why I was even more mad when Jacob told me about the circumstances of his death!”
• Ostatnie pożegnanie Tomasza Wacko — some photos from the funeral
• Tomasz Wacko died three years ago — a former Polish ambassador to Belarus Mariusz Maszkiewicz explains that Tomasz Wacko was very involved in Belarusian affairs. He says that thanks to Wacko Norwegian politicians became aware of Belarus and the he laid the groundwork for Alexander Milinkevich’s visit to Norway.
It’s a very weird story.