Two months ago, guided by the Christian message of love of one’s neighbor, the Warsaw Club of Catholic Intelligentsia (KIK) opened in the Gródek commune, near the Polish-Belarusian border, outside the state of emergency, the Crisis Intervention Point (PIK) run by KIK volunteers.
The task of the Point is to provide, legally and with due diligence, humanitarian aid to migrants and refugees crossing the Polish-Belarusian border. PIK works in cooperation with the Granica Group and other organizations providing aid at the border, including the Catholic Church.
The basic frame for the functioning of the Point is to operate in accordance with the law. All volunteers who provide humanitarian aid had extensive training in providing aid within borders and under the law. During the two months of the Point’s operation, KIK volunteers had many contacts with Border Guard and Police officers who did not raise any objections to the Point’s operation and KIK volunteers. The public opinion was informed about the details of the activities of the Crisis Intervention Point.
On Wednesday, December 15, 2021, four volunteers were on duty at the Point run by KIK. Three of them were arrested in the afternoon by the police, and held in a police car for several hours. Then, in the evening, around 9 p.m., several dozen police officers armed with automatic weapons made a search at the Crisis Intervention Point run by the KIK. Officers gathered all the volunteers on duty at PIK and questioned them until five in the morning. Officers confiscated all computers and telephones used for PIK’s work as well as private volunteers’ telephones, other electronic equipment and all documentation. The PIK search lasted all night until the early hours of the morning.
The operation of PIK was legal, it was carried out in compliance with the provisions of the law. It was known to the officers and did not raise any objections before. We consider yesterday’s police action to be absolutely inadequate to the situation. We expect the Polish state to support and protect non-governmental organizations, in particular those that provide humanitarian aid. We consider carrying out a search in this manner, interrogating our volunteers in the middle of the night, and taking away their tools of work as a contradiction to the obligations of the state and its officials and an escalation of tension. We strongly demand that the representatives of the Police explain this matter and return the equipment to our volunteers as soon as possible so that they can return to providing relief activities. Their aim is solely to save the health and lives of migrants.
The Ombudsman and representatives of the Church, including the Primate of Poland, were informed about the situation. We would like to thank the Granica Group, the lawyers who provided us with support and PIK volunteers.
(*) The KIK, the Catholic Intelligentsia Club in Warsaw was established in 1956. It is an association of lay people whose goal is active, responsible and creative participation in social life motivated by faith. For several years, KIK in Warsaw has been running humanitarian projects in Syria, Iraq and eastern Ukraine. He is involved in building a civil society in Belarus and Ukraine. Since 2019, he has been co-creating the Wounded in the Church initiative, co-organizing the operation of a helpline and a support group for people affected by sexual violence in the Church. Since its foundation, the KIK has been conducting educational and formation activities, the manifestation of which is the social commitment of volunteers.
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