19 April 2013

Never Again The message of 'NEVER AGAIN' has been heard loud and clear through a series of events accompanying this week's 70th anniversary of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

A number of violent incidents provoked by the extreme right preceded the anniversary. They included an attack by a group of far-right football hooligans chanting nationalist slogans on the Regional Women's Forum held in Gdynia on 13 April. On the same day, a stone commemorating the late Jacek Kuron, a leader of the Polish democracy movement and a friend of the 'NEVER AGAIN' Association, was daubed with neo-fascist symbols in Warsaw. On 15 April, racist attackers tried to set fire to a flat inhabited by a refugee family in Bialystok. In Wroclaw, the extreme-right party NOP (National Rebirth of Poland) has used Facebook to mobilize for a pogrom-style 'final solution' to a Roma settlement, announced for the day of Adolf Hitler's birthday (20 April).

Against this context, the 'NEVER AGAIN' Association has taken part in several timely initiatives against racism. On 16 April, 'NEVER AGAIN' members actively participated in the conference entitled 'The escalation of nationalist violence - the role of the state and civil society in counteracting'. Rafal Pankowski gave the keynote speech, while Jacek Purski participated in the NGO panel on hate crime. The event was co-organized by the Campaign Against Homophobia and Collegium Civitas and attended by a number of Poland's leading politicians and intellectuals.

Also on 18 April, a debate on the contemporary far-right with a keynote speech by 'NEVER AGAIN' was held at Warsaw University's Department of Journalism and Political Science on the initiative of the Res Humana group. Many other commemorative and awareness-raising events with the participation of 'NEVER AGAIN' took place during the week, too. Several rock bands aligned with the 'NEVER AGAIN' Association have been touring Poland under the 'Music Against Racism' banner.

In the context of the rise in far-right activity in the last weeks and months, the 'Brown Book 2011-2012' - a register of hate crimes edited by Marcin Kornak and Anna Tatar, published by the 'NEVER AGAIN' Association - has been continuously discussed by Polish public opinion. It documents more than 600 xenophobic incidents. Robert Biedron, one of Poland's best known MPs, has filed a formal parliamentary interpellation to Prime Minister Donald Tusk asking the government what conclusions it drew from the 'Brown Book' and urging it to act upon the evidence published by 'NEVER AGAIN'.

The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association is an independent educational, monitoring organization established in Poland in 1996. In 2009, in cooperation with UEFA and the FARE network ‘NEVER AGAIN’ set up the East Europe Monitoring Centre documenting racism and xenophobia across the region. In 2012, it implemented the 'Respect Diversity – Football Unites' social responsibility project accompanying the European Football Championships in Poland and Ukraine.

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