Flags of empathy for refugees
2021, DIY flag

Warsaw

Photographs: Konrad Smoleński, Joanna Rajkowska STOP TORTURE AT THE BORDER! March of solidarity with refugees by i.a.  Feminist Fund, Love Does Not Exclude and March 8 Women’s Agreement
This is a critical moment! For almost two months now, the Polish authorities have been taking actions that have cost the lives of at least 7 people seeking shelter in Poland and Europe. The lives of hundreds more who are trying to escape from the border forests are in peril. Among them are small children and babies. They are refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Turkey and other countries where they are threatened by war, persecution and violence. In disregard of the international law, the humanitarian principles and basic human morals, Polish forces deny these people access to the asylum procedure, they refuse to provide medical assistance and push them back to the Polish-Belarusian border. The pushbacks are undertaken without exception: against adults and children, the thirsty, the hungry, the hypothermic and the sick. The measures taken by the Polish government are preventing people who are freezing cold and starving from receiving the essential medical assistance. It happens despite the fact that there are dozens of medics who are ready to help refugees at the border, free of charge and now. The state of emergency officially introduced by the Law and Justice and its right-wing allies blocks citizens’ access to public information about what is going on at the Polish border. We do not know what happened to people who were pushed out of Poland and forced to stay in the border forests. The life and health of these refugees is in danger and it is our responsibility to react. Let’s show our objections, our anger, and our dissent! Let’s be the voice of those who are denied to speak up! Let’s resist! We demand an immediate end to illegal push-backs! Stop torture at the Polish border! Let’s protest together! Our march is on October 17 (Sunday), starts at 2pm in front of the Palm (de Gaulle roundabout in Warsaw).

 

At the time of writing, a human tragedy is being played out on the border between Poland and Belarus. Refugees from war torn countries are trapped between opposing border guards, sometimes for weeks. People are dying of hypothermia or disease. Those who get through are often illegally returned across the border. It is Poland’s shame, this abdication of Christian values by this Catholic country.

Emblematic of aid for refugees is the thermal blanket, a thin, lightweight layer of essential insulation, gold on one side, silver on the other. A thermal blanket can also be an evocative flag. Tape one edge to a pole or stick and there it is. A flag to demonstrate empathy or solidarity with struggling refugees everywhere, but particularly right now on the Polish-Belarusian border – for those trapped in marshland or in forests in temperatures that are dropping fast.

On Sunday 17th October 2021, a demonstration of support for the trapped refugees took place in Warsaw. Among the 3000 people attending, the flags of empathy flew, many with the outline of a refugee child, taken from a photograph. Sadly, it seems that this flags must be used again.

 

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