Poland: let the refugees in!

Submitted by AWL on 16 November, 2021 - 6:04 Author: Mohan Sen
Refugees at Polish border

Speaking about the thousands of refugees stranded without shelter on the Poland-Belarus border, a Polish comrade told us:

“There was a pregnant refugee, I think from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Polish border guards took this woman by her hands a legs and threw her back over the border like a sack of potatoes. She lost the pregnancy. The border guards have been made like gods, with power of life and death over people.

“The persecution of the migrants divides people in the area. It is a very conservative region, and many are deeply hostile. But then there are people with good hearts who have gone out of their way to try to help them. Of course many of those organising are activists from big cities, but some are just local people. This is a very brave stand for them to take in those communities.

“We need militant demonstrations, to try to shame our governments. At the same time raising money can make a real difference. You can pay for a sleeping bag to give people who are outside in freezing temperatures. You can pay for petrol so a lawyer can actually get to a camp to talk to people.”

The horrors on the Poland-Belarus border show up Alexander Lukashenko’s regime in Belarus. They also show up the European Union.

Lukashenko has shamelessly exploited the refugees to exert pressure on the EU for relaxation of sanctions. The EU’s response is also shameless and shameful.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell trumpeted the EU’s “determination... to stand up to the instrumentalisation of migrants for political purposes”. But that is exactly what the EU governments are also doing. If the initial cause of the horrors was Belarus shipping refugees to the Polish border, now we see EU governments determined to use every means to exclude a tiny number of migrants, in order to bolster Fortress Europe.

A few months ago the EU hierarchy was criticising Poland’s far-right government for its attacks on human rights and the rule of law. Now it is rallying round the Polish regime as it passes anti-refugee legislation in violation of the Geneva convention.

The EU leaders mostly abhor Donald Trump. Yet there is talk of the EU funding construction of a Trump-style wall along the Polish border.

The European “migrant crisis”, blossoming on many of the EU’s frontiers, is a result of EU governments’ increasing determination to avoid a rational, humane policy of welcoming people in.

Not that Brexit improves anything. The Tories have sent soldiers to support the Polish government’s blockade!

The humanitarian and political situations are grim. The left must fight to lower borders and welcome people into Europe. There have been protests in the UK organised by Polish and Iraqi socialists (many of the refugees on the Polish border are from Iraq). We should help organise more - and also support those in Poland organising solidarity.

• Statement from Polish activists here
• The comrade recommends donating to these two Polish NGOs: Fundacja Ocalenie and Nomada Stowarzyszenie

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