FIRST ON FOX: Thousands have signed a letter to Congress protesting the imprisonment of a Canadian pastor who has spent the past two weeks in solitary confinement after giving a speech to the anti-vaccine mandate Freedom Convoy blockade along the U.S.-Canada border.
Pastor Artur Pawlowski remains jailed in solitary confinement for 23 hours per day at the Calgary Remand Centre after being denied bail twice, prompting outrage from approximately 10,000 people who have so far signed the congressional letter, according to Cindy Chafian, who is the executive director of Firebrand Action and Media, which organized the initiative.
Pawlowski was arrested for the fifth time since the pandemic on Feb. 7, four days after the pastor delivered a 20-minute speech to the truckers in Coutts, Alberta, during which he urged them to “hold the line” against government overreach without resorting to violence.
Pawlowski also recounted to them the parallels he sees between the Freedom Convoy and Poland’s Solidarity movement in the 1980s that ultimately led to the liberation of his native country, despite a crackdown from its communist government.
Pawlowski was ultimately charged on one count of “mischief,” one count of aiding in “blocking critical infrastructure” and one count of breaching a bail condition for “not keeping the peace,” which was related to probation conditions under which he was placed in October after being arrested following his U.S. tour.
A Crown prosecutor alleged that Pawlowski’s speech to the truckers was an “overt threat to violence,” according to the CBC, though Pawlowski explicitly told the truckers twice not to resort to violence, according to video of his remarks.
‘He was denied water’
Pawlowski first made international headlines last April when he threw armed police out of his sanctuary when they attempted to inspect it for COVID-19 compliance during an Easter service.
The scene was captured in a video in which he refers to the Canadian police as the Gestapo.
After continuing to hold church services in defiance of court orders, Pawlowski has faced repeated dramatic arrests, including in the middle of a busy highway and on the tarmac of Calgary International Airport.
Last summer, he conducted a speaking tour throughout the United States, meeting with lawmakers and warning large audiences that Western governments increasingly resemble the communist regime in Poland he fled as a young man.
Pawlowski’s family alleged that he has been treated poorly in prison since his most recent arrest, especially during the first few days of his incarceration.
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“He was denied water for what he said was about a day and a half, nearly two days,” said Pawlowski’s son, Nathaniel Pawlowski.
“He was placed in what he described as like a dog kennel, but it was like a cage, sort of like what you have in a police van; those really thin, small cages with very little air circulation. So he was placed in one of those for hours on end twice.”
Nathaniel Pawlowski told WHD News Digital that in addition to being denied running water, his father was repeatedly strip-searched for contraband and had his Bible taken away, claims that were backed up by Pawlowski’s lawyer, Sarah Miller.
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“I do think that he is facing some challenges because of who he is,” Miller said of her client.
‘We fight what you fear’
A spokesman for the Acting Minister of Justice and Solicitor General of Alberta Sonya Savage, who maintains jurisdiction over provincial correctional facilities, told WHD News Digital that privacy legislation prohibits her office from providing information regarding specific inmates in Alberta.
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The spokesman maintained that all cells have proper airflow, running water, and access to meals and drinks. Inmates can request a Bible, Quran and other religious texts, he said.
The spokesman went on to explain how since March 2020, COVID-19 prevention measures have been put in place that require inmates to be quarantined for 14 days, after which they can join the general inmate population if they test negative for COVID-19.
Pawlowski’s supporters gathered last Tuesday in peaceful vigils at various Canadian consulates in the United States to protest his treatment. More peaceful protests are planned at U.S. state Capitols and consulates on Feb. 26, gathering under the banner of “We fight what you fear.” Pawlowski’s next bail hearing is scheduled for March 11.
‘God allows me to be here’
According to regular updates relayed to his family from prison and posted to his Facebook page, Pawlowski thanked his supporters for their prayers and recounted how his fellow inmates have been seeking him out for spiritual guidance.
“I can feel your prayers, and they keep me strong,” the pastor said Monday. “God allows me to be here for a witness to the entire world, to show what happens when you kick God out of your nation. Lawlessness, injustice, abuse of power and corruption creeped in.
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“God allows me to be here for a witness to the entire world, to show what happens when you kick God out of your nation. Lawlessness, injustice, abuse of power and corruption creeped in.”
“I am here to be a witness to the prisoners,” he continued. “I have witnessed to them in the most personal way and have become one of them, and because of that, I have been blessed every day with an opportunity to tell them about Jesus. In the end, to be able to do that, it has all been worth it.”
When he was first imprisoned on Feb. 7, Pawlowski underwent a three-day fast based on the biblical tradition of Esther, who fasted to expose the evil in her nation. Since then, Pawlowski has been undergoing a 21-day ‘Daniel fast,’ by which he is seeking an answer from God.
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“Every day I have an opportunity to preach. God says to go to the prisoners, and I have done so. Inmates stop at my window to listen to be counseled and prayed for. I am on my 14th day of fasting without eating and am standing strong,” he added.