Putin’s agent. “Killer of Poles.” Those inscriptions in violent purple graffiti appeared this week on the family grave of Maciej Stuhr, a movie star and son of an undisputed legend, fellow actor Jerzy Stuhr. Pride of Poland, living culture of the country. Maciej had been hours ago on the border with Belarus, trying to make visible the hopelessness of the immigrants who hide like beaten dogs fleeing a safe expulsion and posted a “I hope that Jesus does not have facebook”, catholic and suffering as the tradition of this land.
The desecration of the unobtrusive mausoleum in Krakow’s Rackowicki Cemetery has shocked. And in a tiny trade to more than 500
kilometers from there and two steps from where the police are walking through the glacial forest hunting for refugees, a clerk from Michalowo (3,300 inhabitants and a ghostly silence) refers to the incident to justify her fear of giving an opinion. The roads in these rural enclaves are full of monumental crosses with flowers and prayers. He confesses sad. He knows who has provided food and water to those who arrive and immediately mentions the “cursed soldiers”, groups of ultra-xenophobic jingoistic hooligans who are intimidating in the streets, and pray that his identity is not disclosed. She is m.” enough. Not the one in your store. Tomorrow she does not want to find the shop window crossed out with an exhaustion that marks her forever in the eyes of all.
This first experience of Poland with irregular immigration at its doors is being a fracture. We are talking about the same State as in the crisis of 2015, to closed figures already from the Council of the EU, refused to take on just one of the 160,000 Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans, who stormed through Greece or the Balkans leaving their respective wars behind. Its quota was 6,182 welcomed and its president, Andrzej Duda, who renewed his mandate last July although by the minimum, already then warned against those people attributing terrorist intentions and evils from hell, “cholera, parasites and other diseases,” he said.
With what happened these months, a minister of his has added that they are also “pedophiles and zoophiles.” It is not surprising then that women like Isa, 30 years old and resident in Bialystok, the great city closest to the epicenter of the crisis, with 300,000 registered, certify that they are against receiving uncontrolled guests in Poland. Even knowing that “it is not a very attractive place for them” and who do not want to stay, only cross to rich Europe, From where her friends who live there, in London, in Stockholm, they have told her that foreigners who arrive like this, to the assault and to the race, “are people who do not integrate, some even aggressive, steal …”. For this reason, he concludes that a wall of separation would not be a bad idea and that, in the event of an attack from the East, where the Soviet heritage extends, “it would serve as a barrier to defend ourselves.” Here a conflict is not ruled out entirely.
Warsaw already has it in planning, 350 million euros. The project is in the information phase, reminded this newspaper the activist Anna Alboth, nominated for the Nobel Prize and confident that the shifting orography of that inhospitable border, flooded with rivers, which borders Belarus will make any construction difficult.
Frankly, in the city of Bialystok it will be difficult to talk to anyone. Six failed attempts followed by as many citizens who mutter ‘no’ and ‘thank you’ as soon as they hear the word ‘immigrant’. Three more. The translator tactfully explains that in this environment “nationalism”, read far right, is more pronounced. Another young woman agrees, a waitress at a ‘low cost’ self-service, who also refuses to expose herself but intersperses a “No, I don’t want immigrants here, but I feel like they’re in the forest”. The cold is already very intense and the worst is coming.
In constant defiance with Brussels and flying over the more than probable ‘polexit’ bluff, Poland, its Constitutional Court, just settled in October that internal laws prevail over community ordinance. Now you go and demand that they are Europe and that they receive with dignity and give the opportunity – like any member country – to ask for asylum, if they wanted to, to those refugees who by the thousands have been brought up by the uncomfortable communist neighbor Aleksandr Lukashenko. His perverse use of immigration as a weapon of massive political deterrence to exact revenge on the Union for not recognizing his adulterated victory in an operetta election. Among others. A pressure strategy is so well thought out, so organized, analysts say, that the Minsk dictator could not have devised it alone. Moscow drives.
Well, in this officially allergic Poland, together with the Czech Republic or Hungary, the Visegrad club, to the solidarity mechanisms that the EU has been trying to update for years and that they mercilessly block, the local population is either frightened by the drama, or supported with more or less passion the hates of his government in a disturbing division. Between deep compassion and a rejection reminiscent of regimes of not so long ago and not far from this soil.
Namely. The climate of official persecution is such that, if there is no other remedy, refugees sometimes end up going to hospitals broken, fearful of being betrayed or detected by the security forces, who lately patrol the plants or the lobby in pairs . «There are immigrants who have outbursts of panic, they try to injure themselves, for example by hitting their head against the wall ». This overwhelming scene, of hurting oneself to try to stay in whatever way is narrated by the deputy director of Hajnowka Hospital, Tomasz Musiuk, and contextualizes it in that critical moment when immigrants know that the Polish police are approaching the rooms to take them back to Belarus. They may still forgive you for today if you are extremely serious, but they have taken patients out in wheelchairs or with a limp. That, if they have not escaped before, they do so as soon as they can. “This is a hospital, not a prison,” claims the doctor.
«Returns are between six and nine in the afternoon, taking advantage of the darkness … – he adds – Here most of them spend only a few hours, we give them food, clothes, they sleep warm a bit, they come to us with hypothermia, disorders metabolic, wounds, a broken leg from having been beaten or bitten by the Belarusian military dogs, cuts, scrapes … But They only ask us one thing: ‘Don’t let anyone take us to the border.’
Scary stories shake up his thing. And in nearby Michalowo, the town of the frightened shop assistant and empty streets, one of the best known and most volcanic leaders in Poland, Marta Lempart, helped this Friday by loading boxes of food and basic items that are available to NGOs in vans, gas stations, hospitals like Musiuk’s, homes that are lending a hand – turning on a green light on the porch is the signal – and everyone who collaborates in citizen aid chains.
Christianity and the past exodus
“The Government is killing immigrants at the border”, sentence. And he repeats it. “The Polish Government is responsible for what is happening there and, therefore, for the dead … They are a gang of criminals and they have to be punished,” he claimed, recalling that he is still unable to enter the exclusion zone, that space prohibited where uniformed men from both countries practice macabre ping-pong with refugees, where neither journalists nor aid workers nor the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe on an institutional mission have been able to access. No major international representations have come to mediate. And there are twelve deceased, according to the activists’ records, because there is no other to consult. This is what decreeing the state blackout has to do, there is no way to check with your own eyes, there is no way to contrast, and the result is that the story remains in the hands of a few.
Around Marta Lempart, the local volunteers also make it clear that they do not want to be photographed in this task. The collection and distribution of goods are carried out from the municipal fire station, whose City Council with the mayor Marek Nazarko at the head is for public opinion the opposite of the Executive of Duda. The vice mayor of Michalowo, Konrad Sikora, stops the frenzy that is brought in this improvised warehouse at the foot of a fire truck for five minutes to play down the initiative.
“There is nothing to be surprised about, it is not exceptional at all” at this “humanitarian point”, he explains. He assures that the police there will not bother. Transporting an immigrant in Poland in your car is human trafficking, a crime; give him food no. “The Government takes care of the borders so that they do not enter illegally, it is normal, but what we do is help those who have already crossed,” he describes calmly. And it contributes two keys of a moral order that, amid so much upheaval, are passing little noticed. A, Poland is a Christian country. We help those who need help … We are supposed to. In the cradle of John Paul II, the Church itself seems not to be taking into account the precepts – it has not pronounced itself – nor the so devoted power, which celebrates solemn masses for the holy protection of public companies, in the case of the state electricity company, and whose president had himself blessed for the investiture as in a coronation.
Two, the mayor emphasizes: “There are those who welcome, others who are against … But it is the Poles who have been refugees.”
The memory gives for what it gives. And in these times when the needy are others, it would be convenient not to forget the exodus from martial, backward and communist Poland to West Germany or Sweden that lasted until the 90s and that continued in search of better living conditions in the early years of the decade of the 2000 also heading to the United Kingdom or Ireland. The UN statistics prior to the pandemic, the latest definitive, indicate that There are 4.4 million Polish-born people around the world. Not all traveled with papers in order and in accordance with the laws.
The Warsaw authorities shake off guilt, recalling that, to put one piece of information, in 2017 they were the first in the Union to grant visas to outside workers. 680,000, reflects the European agency Eurostat, 85% Ukrainians. Ukraine, “a predominantly white and Christian country”, the chronicles emphasize. To differentiate, not from the Middle Eastern and African enclaves, mainly Muslim, from which those of now come. Organizations such as the Fundación Diálogo, which are hosting small groups – a sign on the perimeter fence warning that they are not receiving the press – are taking care of even a few Colombians who communicate in Russian. Smugglers? Who could ask.
There are no refugees within reach. The victims of this geostrategic pulse do not take risks, the hospitals do not want to compromise them, neither do the NGOs. In contact with one of them, Iraqi Kurd, who is already on the British map, demands money for allowing himself to be interviewed. In the midst of this madness an immigrant, a Belarusian renegade from the Minsk satraps, Roman Levitanov by name, complains in the city that he had to enter Poland with a visa and a contract. And that accepting those who come after is a provocation. For Warsaw and for him.