Magdalena Filiks. Photo: Attila Husejnow/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
The death by suicide of the 15-year-old son of a prominent opposition politician has sparked outrage in Poland after a state-owned radio station released details that allowed the teenager to be identified as a victim of sexual abuse.Magdalena Filiks, an MP with the centre-right Civic Platform party, revealed last week that her son Mikolaj had died.“On the 17th of February, my son Mikolaj Filiks passed away. Miki’s 16th birthday would have been on the 8th of March,” she wrote on Twitter, giving no details about the reasons for his death. “On behalf of myself and my daughters Aleksandra and Maja, I’m asking the ‘media’ to respect our privacy by not attending [the funeral]”.
Mikolaj’s death has brought the Polish political scene to a boil, because late last year, state-owned media outlet Radio Szczecin published an article on the station’s website saying that the child of a well-known MP had been sexually abused by a member of the Polish opposition in 2020. While the victim was not named, the report did include their exact age, making it possible to identify them.Polish law prohibits the identification of child victims of sexual abuse, and local prosecutors are now investigating the case for a potential breach of the law.Donald Tusk, Civic Platform’s leader and the former Prime Minister of Poland and ex-President of the European Council, criticised the ruling hard-right Law and Justice Party (PiS) for creating the circumstances in which the article was published. PiS has been in power in Poland since 2015, during which time state-owned media has come under increasing government control.“We will hold PiS accountable for every villainy, for all the human harm and tragedy they have caused while in power. I promise,” Tusk wrote on Twitter. Dr Krzysztof Smiszek, an MP with the Lewica party (the Left) drew comparisons with the assassination of Gdansk mayor Paweł Adamowicz in 2019. Adamowicz had been a progressive figure who spoke out in support of LGBTQ rights and immigration before he was fatally stabbed at a public charity event in the city.“It is obvious that we have learned nothing after the death of President Adamowicz,” he said in a phone interview. “Once again, someone thought that the interests of one political party are more important than a child’s welfare, or a family’s welfare, for that matter. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the campaign of hate has brought tragic consequences upon us. Politicians of the ruling party are to blame for that.”Magdalena Filiks has been inundated with messages of condolences from people in Poland, including other politicians, however neither the current Prime Minister or President have posted any messages of condolence or tributes.