Mayor of Przemyśl Wojciech Bakun restricted to accept Roma people at the help center

On June 26, volunteers helping refugees from Ukraine in the Polish city of Przemysl, bordering Ukraine, told ADC Memorial that due to interruptions in the schedule of departure and arrival of trains, a large group of refugees from Ukraine, including about 100 Roma, had accumulated at the railway station. The mayor of the city, Wojciech Bakun, who was personally present at the station on Saturday night, demanded from the volunteers that they never take the Roma to the Tesco help center, even for an overnight stay. Wojciech won the 2018 mayoral election as a candidate for the right-wing populist party Kukiz’15.

Here is what one of the volunteers helping refugees at the Tesco center said: “The mayor was on duty at the station all night and made sure that the Roma were not taken to our Tesco help center, although we had more than 400 free beds. [They were not allowed] even to sleep for a couple of hours [there]. At the same time, I have personally witnessed that about 50 Roma children with their parents had to sleep on the platform and on the bare asphalt around the station. [Bakun] even sent away the taxis that we wanted to deliver refugees to the center and forbade our volunteer to help them. After that, he came to our center, looked for me, threatened to arrest and deport me, although the only thing I did was put five Roma in a volunteer’s car so that he would take them to [our center] for the night. Some of the families have already been at our center, one child has heart problems.”

Recently, the BBC has reported that refugees from Ukraine are received with warm sympathy in Przemysl, and Wojciech Bakun was proud that his city of only 60,000 people is helping Ukraine. However, according to the volunteers, this is not the first time Bakun has banned helping Roma refugees in the Tesco center and has tried to expel them from the city.