Poland

“Poland against racism and violence!” march happening today in Warsaw

"Every seven and a half hours in Poland a race, ethnic or religion-based crime is committed."
Photo Jan Skalík.

Just like last year, on October 15 the 2016, we are going to celebrate Refugees Solidarity Day. More than 20 cities are organizing meetings, social campaigns, artistic sessions, workshops, discussions, lectures, exhibitions, happenings, film screenings and concerts – all under a shared slogan of international cooperation and human solidarity and of protest against hatred and racism driven violence.

The 15th of October is an occasion to loudly state that there is no place for animosity and persecutions of people in need in Poland. That we want our country to actively partake in international refugee assistance. That we have the right to live in a country where everyone – regardless of their origin, race, faith, gender, sexual orientation, worldviews or financial situation – is treated with respect and feels safe.

The main event of the day is a demonstration in solidarity and protest against racism and violence that will begin in front of the Palace of Culture and Science (Pałac Kultury i Nauki) on the 15th of October at 4 PM.

Moreover, an appeal, signed by more than 250 institutions from all around Poland, was published. A number of signatures this high has not been achieved under any appeal in many years.

THE APPEAL

Day of Solidarity with Refugees, 15th of October 2016 – Poland against racism and violence

Every seven and a half hours in Poland a race, ethnic or religion-based crime is committed. Click to Tweet

Every seven and a half hours in Poland a race, ethnic or religion-based crime is committed.  Everyday someone is insulted or beaten up on the streets of our cities. Instances from the last couple of months include: an Indian married couple, a Mongolian comedian, a girl from Algeria, a black girl from Warsaw, an accordionist from a Roma musical theatre, students from Portugal and Turkey, a Syrian bartender, a Chilean pianist, a black British citizen. In Przemyśl a black boy playing with his peers was heavily insulted and thrown out of a playground by a grown-up white man.

Since the beginning of 2015 Europe is facing a growing migration crisis. So far our country has not received many refugees and yet the topic provokes prejudice and xenophobia. Instead of having a factual conversation about the problems and possibilities connected to migration, it is myths, insults and fear that dominate the Polish public debate. The mass hysteria thus created has a direct influence on our reality. According to the official data in years 2013-15 the number hate-driven crime doubled in Poland. No statistics are available for 2016, but according to many NGOs dealing with the problem, the situation is getting worse. The victims of violence are not only – and not most of all – refugees. Every person with different skin colour, attire or speaking a foreign language is a potential target. This includes people living in Poland for years, even those born here.

As Edmund Burke famously stated over 200 years ago: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. History proved him right. This is why we need to overcome our indifference. We have to stop racism and nationalism together – react to the violence on our streets, participate in public debate, talk to our friends and families. We need to demand from our authorities to see xenophobia in Poland, not only beyond its borders. We need to demand them to effectively counteract the tide of violence in our country.

Just like last year, on October 15th 2016 we will celebrate Solidarity with Refugees Day. Meetings,  social campaigns, artistic sessions, workshops, discussions, lectures, exhibitions, happenings, film screenings and concerts will take place – all under a shared slogan of international cooperation and human solidarity in protest against hatred and racism driven violence.

15th of October is an occasion to loudly state that there is no place for animosity against the helpless people in need in Poland. That we want our country to actively partake in the international refugee assistance. That we have the right to live in a country where everyone – regardless of their origin, race, faith, gender, sexual orientation, worldviews or financial situation – is treated with respect and feels safe.

Organizers’ commentary:

“The appeal was signed by over 250 institutions, both private and public. Among them one can find theatres, museum, foundations, libraries, magazines, think thanks, NGOs, publishers or festivals. A number of signatures this high has not been achieved under any appeal in many years. It shows the scale of the problem which we are currently facing in Poland.” – said Paweł Cywioski, co-founder of uchodzcy.info – a website devoted to refugee issues. “This huge reaction is making us very happy. It shows that the word ‘solidarity’ retains a meaning in this country.”

Why the world fears refugees
(Narrated by Zygmunt Bauman, via Talk to Al Jazeera)

Krytyka Polityczna
Krytyka Polityczna (Political Critique) is the largest Eastern European liberal network of institutions and activists. It consists of the online daily Dziennik Opinii, a quarterly magazine, publishing house, cultural centres in Warsaw, Łódź, Gdańsk and Cieszyn, activist clubs in a dozen cities in Poland (and also in Kiev and Berlin), as well as a research centre: the Institute for Advanced Study in Warsaw.

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