The situation that has been ongoing for months on the border between Poland and Belarus is a real humanitarian crisis, putting in danger thousands of people who try to find refuge in Europe. But, it is not only that.
Originally published by Kontrapolis.
It is also a very fertile ground for hatred of the other, of foreigners, in Poland and of course in all of Europe. The way people are treated by the government justifies the thoughts and actions of right-wing extremist groups and fuels the growth of a fascist European Border system. The fear and impotence that are brought by the tragic images relayed by the mainstream media are not new. It anguishes, immobilizes, demonstrating in black and white the authority of all-powerful militarized states, equipped with weapons and barbed wire. It makes people believe than this is the only option, that this is an efficient “solution” to a “dangerous crisis”. Who is here in danger? In the meantime, attention is being diverted from a necessary reflection on possible solidarity structures and inclusion strategies that would not have cost more. Increasing this fear in any way is one of the most openly used tactics of the last century, to justify the more and more hermetic closing of borders. It is also a way to paralyze people, to make them feel unable to react to inhumane measures, unable to resist them.
However, many people and groups have taken action, despite the ever-increasing difficulties, danger and lack of means. These people are partly locals who didn’t accept the situation and got to be active, some joined more or less institutionalized associations, or formed autonomous groups. Directly, autonomous anarchist groups have joined them and organized in their own way a system of first aid. Beyond the physical help, their goal is also to spread honest and effective information about what is happening there, for the rest of Europe.
Link to the NoBorderTeam Telegram info-chanel: t.me/no_borders_team.
In December 2021, the No Border Team Poland invited groups from several European countries to discuss the situation. The goals of this meeting were to get a better understanding of the situation in Poland, what has been done so far and which are the current needs. Also, to connect more autonomous groups around the cause in order to strengthen the European network of anti-border activists and to think about common strategies.
Why do we publish this open communication text?
We felt it is necessary to publish this text because we have identified concrete needs. It seems that many people and groups in Europe have the desire and the resources to help, but that there is a big lack of information to understand the situation effectively. Sometimes the connections are also missing. We hope that this analysis of the subject opens perspectives for present and future creative actions.
This text should point out the current situation shortly but mainly focus on the different fields that were identified together with the polish activists, where attention and action is needed now, in the following months and in a long term perspective! Every field can be addressed on different levels – politically, direct actions, networking – depending on the person or group possibilities, experiences and capacities. We need those different levels to exist and work together.
1. The situation at the border between Poland and Belarus and where help is needed
As mostly known, there is already since months a network of different groups organized at the polish-belarussian border, either within the Grupa Granica structure or as autonomous No Border groups. Of course, there is always the necessity of money or certain items so that the groups can continue with their work – however, polish activists and groups currently communicate that the structures they built up at the polish-belarussian border are stable and currently do not need urgent support from international activists, also because there are networks with locals. Currently, the situation is shifting to the lithuanian border and support of experienced activists is welcome there.
But most importantly, what we figured out together is that the action and engagement of people and groups who want to get involved should focus on the local structures and needs in the destination countries to ensure a long term and sustainable targeting of the overall problem instead of tending to short-time-activism at the border!
If urgent support is needed at the border, activists will reach out and formulate the needs.
In short: get organized in your cities, villages and regions! This will be pointed out more detailed in the following parts.
2. Pressure on European destination countries governments
An important element of a short- and long-term strategy is to put continuous pressure on politicians and governments of Germany and other western countries to issue a declaration of receiving refugees to their countries. Such a declaration will directly influence the strategies of the Polish government towards people on the move.
In the last months, several demonstrations, actions and info-events were organized in different regions and cities to put attention on the situation at the polish-belarussian border and to pressure the governments to act. It is urgently necessary that this is continuing and reaching a mobilization on a larger scale. Creativity and radicalness within our actions are needed more then ever to make our voices heard.
As the media plays a crucial role in bringing people’s and governments’ attention to a point, it is important to bring our voices and images not only to our alternative media but also to mainstream media. The situation at the border is not covered in german media with the ongoing attention that is needed. Together with polish activists we also realized, that as german media is not covering a detailed and ongoing report or analysis of the current situation, a full image of how people on the move are treated from all governments involved as well as how repetitive the problems are that are created by the border strategy of Europe is not reaching german society.
In short: We need to attain a larger scale mobilization to pressure our governments and confront them with their part of the responsibility. Could we read in german media any statement on the government’s decision to provide refuge to migrants? Any article on the planned construction of a wall between Belarus and Europe or about polish detention centers? Let’s use all means of communication to change this!
3. Detention centers in Poland
Apart from the red zone at the polish-belarussian border, a central field of oppression, inhumanity and cruelness are the detention centers in Poland where currently thousands of people are held locked-in without legal support to access an asylum process, without continuous medical and psychological support or access to basic needs.
The centers are constantly overcrowded and hardly accessible. In the beginning of December, a revolt of the people locked in the detention center in Wedrzyn broke out as a response to the inhuman treatment and the lack of perspectives.
We need to redefine a refugee camp as a place that serves as a prison and is a space where we deprive people of their physical and mental freedom, where the state commits ongoing torture and persecution. Detention camps in the long-term perspective are not the answer, not only because of our ideological disagreement. In the long term, cultivating current policies will lead to systemic failure.
There is a big need to gather and publish information about the current situation in the detention centers and to highlight and scandalize the everyday violation of basic human rights in these places!
The conditions in the centers and the cruel strategies of the polish government to deal with the current situation need to arrive to the attention of the society. Especially German governments need to be put under pressure to react, as a huge number of Dublin cases in Germany will lead to deportations back to Poland.
There is a big need of international support networks around several detention centers in Poland, as the work and energy of polish activists currently focus to the borders and capacities are limited.
In short: Detention centers in Poland are actual places where to focus. Investigation, gathering of information, observation and documentation of the current situation in and around the detention centers are urgently needed to scandalize the status quo and to support the people who are stocked there.
4. The building of the wall in Poland
Already weeks ago, the polish government declared to build a wall to the belarussian border. The construction started already and will continuously go on in the next months with the help of british engineer troops and several polish and international steel and material companies. The wall will be build through the Białowieża Primeval Forest, the last primeval forest in Europe and will disrupt the function of the local ecosystems as well as lead to the destruction of several dozen hectares of forest.
There is a very urgent need to publicize the matter in the mainstream and alternative media and among activists, as the fact of a wall being build between Poland and Belarus is not publicly present. The consequences of the construction of the wall will be crucial for the direction of migration and migration opportunities. Contributing companies and governments of our own countries need to be identified and stopped!
In short: Germany is passively and actively participating in building a wall – we can not accept this! We have to stop it, physically! And bring as much as actors to support the shaming campaign.
5. Detention centers in Germany and other destination countries and long term support networks for asylum seekers
What has become clear since the beginning of the crisis at the polish-belarussian border, is the fact that the people on the move mainly do not want to stay in Poland (and Poland doesn’t want them staying) but want to reach other destination countries – mostly Germany, France, Netherlands or UK. Migration possibilities are under constant change – borders will close, new routes will open up, political situations will change but migration will never stop. It is currently unclear how the situation in Poland and Belarus will develop but it is clear that already lots of people arrived to the destination countries mentioned above.
Polish activists are currently dealing with a very dynamic and constantly changing situation at the border that focuses on first aid and short time actions in situations of urgency. That’s why they urgently point out the big need of stable and continuous support networks for people who arrived in destination countries and are now in the long process of asylum. The places in Germany where people in this situation are being held might have different characters (Erstaufnahmelager, Camp, Geflüchtetenlager, Gemeinschaftsunterkunft, Container, …) but are mostly all build remote from bigger cities and infrastructure. The isolation and the general lack of legal, medical and psychological advice as well as access to basic information are huge! Many people will face the constant threat of deportation back to Poland, as many were already registered there, or back to the countries where they came from.
People might arrive from Poland currently mainly in Brandenburg but are instantly distributed to centers all over Germany. We need state- and church-independent and autonomous support groups around every center that constantly evaluate the needs of the people being held! Active support as well as protection and resistance against fascist actions is urgently needed.
What is written about polish detention centers is also true for the german system of asylum. On a political level we need to pressure that camps and a highly repressive asylum system are not the answer on migration but rather reinforce isolation, racism and right wing positions within our society.
In short: When people on the move arrive to Germany, France, Italy etc. this is not the end. This is just the beginning. We have to acknowledge that and communicate it clearly.
If networks are existing, we should focus on analyzing the situation from different aspects: political changes, direct action, short term and long term support structures. If groups are existing, they should connect together and share the different needs and tasks to be able to understand the situation and act appropriately. If no group is existing or there are to little people and capacities, we should ask for help in bigger cities, organize meetings and speak about the needs of the region. Let’s be loud, denounce the camp system and find ways to overcome it!
What we want to particularly take care about in every process:
We want to hear the voices and needs of the people who are affected by the system of border
We use our privileges to support and make a real change, not to fall into “charity heroes” roles
We want to think global and in long therm actions to not reproduce mistakes of the system in place
We want the Fortress Europe to break down, we don’t want just to theorize about it!
For more information and proposals, you can write us here: *ANTISPAMemail@example.com