Interview with two people who organise tours for refugees from Ukraine to Krakow and then to Germany.
Originally published by Operation Solidarity.
The local situation at Krakow central station has worsen, tell us.
Kurt: That it has worsen is not true. There is no way getting in and out of Krakow.
Suasanne: The polish police know our local structures. We had many discussion with them. We made clear that we will go through with the plan but tried to be as accommodating as possible. That got drastically worse. The trains leaving Krakow are immensely overbooked. You saw it yourself, The train station was full of people. Plainclothes police officers interviewed our bus drivers, who we were, where we were going and so on.
There are (were) no NGOs visible that organise bus tours, right?
Susanne: Maybe there were, I don’t know. They distribute food, free SIM cards, stuff like that but that people are forced to stay inside the train station for days because the trains are so overcrowded but apparently that’s of nobody’s concern. Apart from the groups who organise the tours themselves. Public authorities or NGOs normally take forever to set something up and until then self organisation is being obstructed or made impossible. Did they think this trough? Do they want to keep the people in Poland? Not really.
You said that Krakow nothing is possible at the moment. What happened there?
Kurt: The polish authorities closed in on one of our busses where people were already trying to enter. In some way they made people who already were victims into victims again. Half of the refugees ran away. That’s why the first bus was only half full at departure. The busses were always full and this one would have been also. The cops then took the phone number of some women and said to us: ”If the women don’t contact us by tomorrow morning, we will come to your hostel and mess you up. We know where you sleep.” The president was in the train station a few days ago, had all the supporters thrown out and commanded that trains with refugees don’t stop in Krakow. That was the las point on a long list of harassment which the refugees and supporters had to endure. We were in Krakow for four weeks, were able to get about 3000 people out and in the same amount of time our documents were written down around 20 times. Not to mention the ‘undercover’ police officers following us around all the time.
Susanne: Tell about the registration.
Kurt: For weeks they have been demanding a written registration or legitimation to do what were already doing without being allowed, in a legal way. They really want some sort of paper from a NGO, an association, something. Very important, there has to be a stamp.
Susanne: It’s likely that it even could have been from a pub.
Kurt: Apart from that a paper like that is not even existent. That was simply harassment. And the papers had to be from the same city as the busses.
Do you know if the polish police cooperate with the german colleagues?
Kurt: I’ve received the message that the polish police put in a request with the LKA (cop section for federal state) if I ever got noticed in connection with human trafficking. The LKA forwarded the message to the BKA (federal cops) and they negated it. So obviously there is administrative assistance between polish and german authorities.
How is it continuing for you?
Kurt: We’ve already found new places to get people out.
Susanne: We will concentrate more on specific groups. Trans-people, physically disabled people, POC, people without documents, deserters.