Canadian pastor Artur Pawlowski, who was arrested Saturday for allegedly violating public health orders by holding church services during the pandemic, said he felt like he was living in Hong Kong after he was released from jail on Monday night.
“I just woke up in Hong Kong a few days ago,” Pawlowski said in an interview with Newsmax hours after his release. “I mean, I thought I emigrated to our beloved Canada, but I am in Hong Kong, full force.”
Hong Kong people have been fighting for freedom in the past few years but have been brutally crushed by the CCP (China Communist Party)-backed local government, and many activists were recently arrested.
“It’s insanity—arresting pastor[s], shutting down churches. Craziness,” Pawlowski added.
Pawlowski and his brother were arrested Saturday on a highway by a SWAT team. He and his brother both were released Monday night.
“Earlier today, police arrested two organizers of a church service who were in violation of a new court order obtained by Alberta Health Services (AHS) in relation to mandatory compliance of public health orders for gatherings,” said the Calgary Police Service in a statement on Saturday.
Pawlowski drew headlines several weeks ago after he kicked police officers out of his church and compared them to the Nazi Gestapo paramilitary forces.
“I have become, with my brother, a political prisoner. We were taken to custody, thrown on the police van like a piece of meat, and we were denied access to the lawyer for 24 hours,” Pawlowski continued.
“It’s horrible. It’s a repetition of history,” Pawlowski said. “I grew up behind the Iron Curtain. I’ve seen the police abuse of power, people being arrested—you could be arrested at five in the morning, the doors could be broken for no reason. Just listening to a European radio, [would] warrant them to torture you, arrest you, and throw you in jail for five years.”
Pawlowski emigrated from Poland to Canada in the 1990s. He and his brother have held gatherings and have denied officials entry into their church located in Dover, Calgary. He has also been fined repeatedly for violating public health orders by holding church services.
“I escaped communism. I escaped Poland because I wanted to come to a country that is free,” Pawlowski added. “And here we are again, repeating the same mistakes, the same history. And I have to stand up and fight for my rights—not for doing evil, for just opening [the] church for the people that freely want to come and worship their God.”
Alberta announced new mandatory health restrictions on May 4 to “help stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health system.”
These measures include new restrictions prohibiting all indoor gatherings, public or private; outdoor gatherings have a limit of five people maximum, or 10 people maximum for areas with lower cases; for places of worships, 15 in-person attendees are the maximum or 15 percent of fire code occupancy for areas with lower cases.
The city of Calgary announced that the enforcement of public health orders would continue to be a priority.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.