Monday, 22 October 2012

Refugees in Poland on Hunger Strike

Over seventy people continue a hunger strike in polish detention centers.

Below is a statement from the website supporting the strikers

Facebook group here

Part of the detainees claim they lack competent legal support or interpreting services, which seriously obstructs the process of claiming their rights in court. Others point to the fact of children not having their rights respected in the centres, of lack of proper education and healthcare, and they demand improvement in social conditions. Detainees indicate the problem of being isolated from the outside world, which provokes abuse on the side of the Polish border guard officers: mental and physical violence, sexual harassment against women, punishing and harassing without respect to the regulations. However, the worriment predominantly indicated by all is the experience of being second-class persons, marginalized by immigration regulations, totally excluded, bereft of even those rights, which they are supposed to enjoy because of being human.

In accordance with the non-refoulement principle, found in Geneva Conventions as well as in Polish Immigration and Immigrant Protection Acts (June 13th 2003), there is also a “category” of persons requesting a refugee status, which means people who seek asylum in Europe. In short, this implies that EU member states are obliged to consider those people’s requests. Therefore, regulations were introduced to legally allow such cases to end with a refusal.

An example of such is Dublin II, an ordinance declaring that asylum requests should be filed in the member state, in which the foreigner crossed the limits of the Schengen Zone. If someone seeks asylum in a different country, they are usually refused and deported to the primary country of arrival. There they seek asylum again, but they have to await the decision in a detention centre, which takes up to a year. In Poland, around 1.6% of claims from asylum seekers are successful, while around 18% receive only so called subsidiary protection for a period of two years. In effect, thus constructed regulations ensure nothing but an illusion of a right to asylum, and in many cases embody an abuse of non-refoulement.

Due to the lack of clarity of regulations, in case of the majority of persons rejected back to Poland on the basis of the Dublin ordinances, the court almost automatically requests to detain them in one of the immigrant detention centres. Notably, detention is designed to serve an ultimate measure, used only in cases of most serious breach against law and order. Immigrants did not commit a crime, nor do they threat the security of the state or its citizens; therefore there is no premise for bereaving immigrants of their freedom, to which they have an undeniable right as human beings. In no aspect do detention centres differ from prisons (barred windows, barbed wires, tall walls, limited access to therapies or education) and in some cases they are organized under harsher conditions than prison regime. Innocent people are detained in the centres, made to play the role of criminals serving punishment.

Strategy of dividing migrants between the wanted and the unwanted, based on economic and political demands of member states, allow to categorize human beings according to the current political and economic situation in a given country. Yet, the “luck” of finding oneself among the “wanted” immigrants does not equal legalization of residence. Illegal immigrants receive wages lower than minimum. Employers do not pay their employees’ insurance, and the lack of chance to claim workers’ rights compensates them any risks they might experience because of illegal employment.

EU’s official policy points to fighting “illegal migration”. Decisions categorizing persons between statuses are taken on artificial criteria, precariously changed to serve the current needs of the market. Morally, this is a totally objectifying way of treating people, who took a desperate step of fleeing their homes, abandoning everything they cared for, and seek security someplace else, because of war, harassment, catastrophes or a tragic economic situation. In their situation, the possibility of legal arrival in Europe is almost none. Therefore, the number of legal immigrants remain scarce, while the rest receive the status of illegals.

The outrageous abuse against immigrants in Europe, both free and detained, is only a secondary problem. The real cause of their personal grieves is the systemic segregation and dehumanization, legally referred to as EU’s migration policy.



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