Performance V
May 14, 2023, 12:00 pm, with Grupa Granica [Border Group]

Saski Park, Warsaw

Text: Grupa Granica
Photo. Johnbob & Sophie Press
The performance was attended by people as well known as Agnieszka Holland, Anda Rottenberg and Danuta Kuroń

Since August 2021, an unimaginable drama has been unfolding on the Polish-Belarusian border. Refugees have been believing the deceitful promises of the Belarusian regime and trying to get to Poland and the European Union in search of safety. The Polish authorities, instead of providing assistance in accordance with the law and enabling them to apply for international protection, practice violence and have “legalized” the practice of deportations (push-backs – i.e. taking people to the border line and pushing them beyond a five-metre-high fence). The militarization of the border and the isolation of the region are continuously increasing, violating Polish and international law as well as human rights – without publicity. The situation on the border has been even worse for several weeks – every day activists – often local residents – provide humanitarian aid to several dozen people from such countries such as Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq and other areas of war, persecution, terror and poverty. The people they meet are often in very poor health, but calling an ambulance risks another deportation. The border guard recently even threw a person with a broken leg over the border fence just after putting on a splint; they kick out people just after surgery, those with serious illnesses, disabilities, pregnant women as well as children. So far, forty-three deaths have been documented as a consequence of this humanitarian crisis. At the request of relatives, the Granica Group (Border Group) is looking for more than 250 missing people. The most common causes of death are hypothermia, lack of access to essential medications, drowning, severe disease complications and untreated bacterial infections.

Performance V is an expression of our empathy, solidarity, rage and powerlessness. We are them. Their lives are just as important as ours. To those who died tragically at the border, we “gave” our own living bodies for one hour. In the idyllic scenery of the Saski Park, between the trees, we recreated the scenery of their death. We do not let people forget about people who die in the forests of Podlasie near the border with Belarus! We would like to remind the Border Guard, the police and the army that the execution of unlawful orders does not release officers from responsibility. We do not condone violence – physical, systemic, symbolic or otherwise! We do not accept the criminalization of humanitarian aid! We do not accept indifference!

Joanna Rajkowska writes: “The title ‘V’ refers to the fifth commandment and to the hope that those responsible for the deaths of these people will not only be brought to justice, but also that society will understand the great value of multiculturalism, diversity and openness to otherness. We are them. They are us.”

So far (May 14, 2023), the deaths of 43 victims of the humanitarian crisis have been documented.
1. Ahmed Hamid al-Zabhawi, 29, from Iraq,
2. NN, age unknown, origin unknown,
3. Mustafa Mohammed Murshed Al-Raimi, 37, from Yemen,
4. Wafaa Kamal, 38, from Iraq,
5. NN, from Iraq,
6. NN, age 16, from Iraq,
7. NN, age unknown, origin unknown,
8. NN, age unknown, origin unknown,
9. Issa Jerjos, 24, from Syria,
10. Farhad Nabo, 33, from Syria,
11. NN, 33, from Syria,
12. Ahmed Al Hasan, 19, from Syria,
13. NN, age unknown, origin unknown,
14. NN, 30, from Sri Lanka,
15. Gaylan Dier, 25, a Kurd from Iraq,
16. Kurdo Khalid, 35, a Kurd from Iraq,
17. Raja Hasan, 44, from Palestine,
18. NN, age 20, from Syria,
19. Halikari Dhaker, an unborn fetus, 24 weeks old, an Iraqi Kurd,
20. Avin Irfan Zahir, 38, Kurdish woman from Iraq,
21. Kawa Anwar Mahmood al-Jaf, 25, from Iraq,
22. NN, age unknown, from Nigeria,
23. NN, 26, from Yemen,
24. NN, age unknown, origin unknown,
25. NN, 26, from Yemen,
26. NN, aged 50, from Syria,
27. Siddig Musa Hamid Eisa, 21, from Sudan,
28. NN, age unknown, origin unknown,
29. Jaber Al Jawabra, from Syria,
30. NN, 28, from Ethiopia,
31. Ibrahim Jaber Ahmed, 33, from Yemen,
32. NN, age unknown, from Ethiopia
33. Tawfik Ali Omar Ahmed Al-Hashiri, 31, from Yemen
34. NN, aged 20-30, from Ethiopia,
35. Njenguoue Livine, 28, from Cameroon,
36. NN, age unknown, origin unknown,
37. NN, age unknown, origin unknown.
38. Yasar Sulimankhil, 23, from Afghanistan
39. Mohammad Noor Jan Gurbaz, 27, from Afghanistan
40th victim, NN, male
41st victim, NN, male
42nd victim, NN, male
43. M., 58 years old, male, from Syria, died in hospital