On Sunday 17 October, Polish groups in Britain are organising a protest at the Polish Embassy (4pm, 47 Portland Place, London W1) about the Polish government’s refusal to allow entry to asylum seekers caught on the Poland-Belarus border. They is their statement.
We protest against the violation of Polish and international law by the Polish authorities by using illegal push-backs against people who are in the area under a state of emergency, and who are seeking asylum in Poland or safe passage through Poland. These people are not illegal! What is illegal is pushing adults and children into the forests, outside of Poland.
The Association for Legal Intervention [a human rights NGO in Poland] recognised the decree of the Ministry of Interior Affairs of 30 August 2021 as a blatant violation of the Geneva Convention. According to the findings of NGO workers and activists from Grupa Granica [a group monitoring the border], up to several hundred people are forced by the Polish border guards to stay outdoors in the forest, without access to water, food, medicines and legal care. We know of at least six deaths. We must not allow people to die of hypothermia and exhaustion on Poland’s borders.
We protest against the dehumanisation of people with refugee and migration experience through false and hateful media narratives... Poles are a nation of emigrants and refugees. They found political asylum in many European countries and, among others, Iran, USA, Tanzania, South Africa and Zambia in the past.
We do not agree with the narrative of white supremacy and Eurocentrism, according to which only the chosen ones have the right to freely cross borders. We also believe that security will be provided by building relationships across religious and cultural divides, not by a razor-wire fence and the abuse of vulnerable people who are themselves fleeing danger.
We protest against the introduction of a state of emergency on the Polish-Belarusian border in order to make it more difficult for lawyers, medical workers, activists and journalists to support people in need, monitor the situation and inform us all about the decisions of our government.
We demand that the state of emergency be lifted immediately and that assistance be provided to those seeking refuge in Poland, or seeking safe passage to other European countries.
We demand that the media, medics, lawyers, independent observers and aid NGOs be allowed into the area of the state of emergency.
We demand the restoration of access to public information.
We demand that Polish authorities abide by international treaties, the Geneva Convention and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
No one is illegal!
Solidarity knows no borders!