‘Let us not avert our gaze from the tragedy taking place on the eastern border of the European Union,’ appeal four literary Nobel Prize winners: Svetlana Alexievich, Elfriede Jelinek, Herta Müller and Olga Tokarczuk in an open letter to presidents of the European Council and of the European Parliament.
‘The Polish government has introduced a state of emergency within the border zone between Poland and Belarus, on the strength of which no medical aid is being allowed in to help those who are sick and dying on the border, and blocks media access to the tragedy that is unfolding there. However, even the incomplete, fragmentary information that is coming through provides insight into the vast scale of the humanitarian disaster that is taking place on the border of the European Union: we know that the people there are being subjected to a merciless push-back procedure, condemning them to hypothermia, starvation and exhaustion in forests and marshes,’ write the Nobel prize winners in their letter addressed to Charles Michel – President of the European Council, David Sassola – President of the European Parliament and the members of the European Parliament.
‘Belarusian travel agencies controlled by the Lukashenka regime are promising desperate people transit into the European Union in exchange for a high fee. Lured by this means to Minsk, they are then taken by organised transportation to the forests on the border. There an attempt is made to push them into Poland by force, while the Polish border guards and troops also use force to turn them back into Belarus. In the worst cases this ends in death. Some of the people who have died are known to us by name, others are dying anonymously,’ add the writers.
Let us not avert our gaze from this tragedy
The Nobel Prize winners appeal: ‘As citizens and residents of the European Union we appeal to you as Europe’s democratically elected representatives – let us not avert our gaze from this tragedy.
The authors of the letter stress that the European Union is above all a moral community that goes beyond all borders and is based on the principles of interpersonal solidarity.
We are appealing for the fastest and most effective solution to this humanitarian crisis, for observation of the rules of the Geneva Convention, and above all for an asylum procedure to be initiated for all those asking for it, and who are being detained in this part of the eastern border of the European Union.
Above all we appeal for humanitarian organisations to be allowed into the border zone to provide medical and legal assistance. We also demand access for accredited journalists and representatives of the media.
Today we are feeling painfully helpless, but knowing the facts means being aware of the evil that is being perpetrated. Knowledge of this kind should be followed by action.
The letter was signed by: Svetlana Alexievich (Nobel Prize winner in 2015), Elfriede Jelinek (Nobel Prize winner in 2004), Herta Müller (Nobel Prize winner in 2009) and Olga Tokarczuk (Nobel Prize winner in 2018).