On Tuesday, 22 July an illegal demolition of Roma Camp took place in Wroclaw. The camp existed for 7 years.
Roma family house remains (picture: Dawid Krawczyk)
Press releases available in polish language:
At the time of the demolition 10 people, including 5 children resided permanently in the camp. Other family members (around 10 persons) were temporarily away working in another city. As every day, on July 22nd the residents had left their homes at around 10am and went to the city center. On the site they had left the dogs to guard their belongings.
At around 1 pm the municipal police appeared, fenced the area and banned anyone from entry. The official note stated that the area “was secured by the Municipal Green Services”. Private sanitation company Trans-formers began the demolition. 6 houses were destroyed together with all the belongings including: children's birth certificates and IDs, two cooking and heating stoves, kitchen appliances, dishes, furniture, bedding, a TV set, mobile phone, battery, alternator, food and 2000 Polish zloty.
The incident was reported at 3 pm by local media. NOMADA Association contacted the victim family and told them about the demolition of their homes. When the family arrived at the scene the persons representing the public services refused to provide them with explanation.
They did not receive information about the reason for the demolition, who issued the decision, and where their belongings were. Representatives of the municipal social welfare center informed them about the possibility to move in to the center for homeless families. The family did not accept the offer, explaining they did not want help from people who had just destroyed their house. NOMADA Association called the police. Police patrol arrived at the scene about 4 pm and collected information about the incident. NOMADA filed the suspicion of crime being committed.
It has not been established what happened to the belongings of the victims. Later on the same day NOMADA managed to find them at the dumpster near Wroclaw (available photographic documentation). Unfortunately, almost nothing could be recovered (except medication belonging to one person).
On July 23 NOMADA Association issued a statement on the demolition of the Roma settlement:
The incident was widely reported in the media. As a result, the next day a spokesperson of the City Mayor Office invited NOMADA to a meeting. The meeting took place on Friday, 24th July. On behalf of the city it was attended by the director of the social affairs department Jacek Sutryk, a representative of the city legal department Dżedzyk, the director of the municipal social assistance center Anna Józefiak Materna and several other officials. The city mayor, Rafal Dutkiewicz did not attend the meeting.
The representatives of the city authorities claimed that the demolition was carried out according to legal procedures. They insisted that NOMADA and the camp residents had been informed about the planned action. The family claimed that they were not given any notice. NOMADA also did not receive any notification. The city authorities called the illegal demolition “dismantling of abandoned estate”. They also announced the plans to demolish the larger camp located on Kamieńskiego Street. When asked about alternative housing for the residents the authorities contended that they would deal with this issue but failed to provide any details. The lack of communication makes the collaboration between NOMADA and the city authorities impossible.
On Monday, 27 July, the Government's Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment Professor Małgorzata Fuszara visited NOMADA’s office. Afterwards, assisted by NOMADA team, she visited Roma residing on Kamieńskiego Street. She talked with the inhabitants and the victims of the illegal demolition
Government's Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment Professor Małgorzata Fuszara visiting Roma Camp
On the same day Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz was present in Wrocław. Representatives of NGOs, social activists and members of the Roma community presented her with the letter. The letter described the incident and requested an official position on the issue.
The Prime Minister ensured that an expert meeting concerning the issue will be held. The statement was reported by major national media.
Prime Minister Ewa Koacz holding the letter (picture: Dawid Krawczyk)
Amnesty International, OSCE, European Roma Rights Centre and the European Commission were informed about the situation. Helsinki Human Rights Foundation offered its support.
NOMADA Association issued a petition addressed to the City Mayor Rafał Dutkiewicz to stop illegal demolitions of Roma settlements and to introduce a local migration strategy.
Polish Ombudsman Professor Irena Lipowicz criticized Wrocław's authorities and addressed the conflicting relationship between central ministries and local authorities
A meeting between governmental representatives regarding the situation of Roma migrants in Poland is to take place on Monday, 3 August in Warsaw. NOMADA and members of Roma community have also been invited.
On Thursday 30 July Ombudsman stated that the local authorities in Wrocław violated the law by not informing the Ombudsman about liquidation:
More information on the situation of Romanian Roma in Wrocław is available in the report by NOMADA
!WATCH! ROMANIAN ROMA DEMONSTRATION AND MEETING WITH POLISH PRIME MINISTER EWA KOPACZ:
The second settlement in Wroclaw located on Kamieńskiego Street has similar legal status to the demolished one on Paprotna Street. However, in regards to Kamieńskiego settlement there is pending eviction process filed against the residents.
However, the city authorities want to implement similar solution as in the case of Paprotna settlement, which could lead to further demolitions and violation of basic human rights by the authorities.