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Escalation of Racial Tensions in Poland

Polish racism unchecked?

Racism in Europe is on the increase and the latest tragic incident exemplifying this dangerous trend took place in Warsaw Poland.

Nigerian Maxwell Itoya died from gun shot wounds after the Polish police raided a group of Nigerian traders selling shoes at a local bazaar. Maxwell was shot in the stomach and later died after being shot by a Polish police officer. Maxwell had tried to intervene during the raid when a fellow Nigerian was subjected to a violent arrest.

What followed was the arrest of over 30 traders who were charged with assaulting police officers during the incident. Polish police spokesman Mariusz Sokolowski said in relation to Maxwell;

“This man could have been saved and police officers started to resuscitate him, but they were repeatedly attacked with stones by a group of foreigners and were forced to defend themselves, and had to stop the resuscitation”

However an eyewitness named Caesar challenged the police version of events. He said:

“This is the latest in a long line of police abuse and brutality towards blacks in this predominately racist country”. The open air market place, which is referred to as Stadium, is made up of mainly Ukrainians and Vietnamese traders, but the biased report would have you believe that it is only Nigerians that were arrested and causing problems.”

Mamadou Diouf, founder of the Africa Another Way Foundation, said there is no statutory agency that monitors the racial incidents in Poland.

In June, Polish priest Tadeusz Rydzyk said to a black missionary during a pilgrimage: “Look, he hasn’t washed at all.”

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski is on record as having joked to colleagues that US President Barack Obama had a Polish connection because “his grandfather ate a Polish missionary.”

The European Union will have to take a much more robust approach to ensuring that nations like Poland effectively tackle racist attacks and institutional racism with the Polish Police force. As yet we have seen little real commitment from the Polish government to seriously engage on the issue.

The European Commission recently brought charges against Poland to the European Union Court of Justice for failure to fully introduce EU anti-racist laws into its legislation. Poland has consistently failed to adopt the race equality provisions of the Amsterdam Treaty agreed in 2000.

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