The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association has published a report entitled ‘«Shoot them.» Hate speech in the election campaign in Poland.’ It documents examples of racist and xenophobic statements about minorities, disseminated for political propaganda purposes.
The report records manifestations of hate speech used by politicians, activists, media, and supporters of particular parties during the election campaign, i.e. from July to October. The publication collects examples of entries on social media platforms, video materials and images, interviews and speeches at rallies, taking aim at Ukrainians, Jews, LGBT people, and people with disabilities, as well as migrants and refugees.
– ‘Never before has hatred towards other people been used so systematically and on such a scale in an election campaign. A ghoulish place in the political messaging was taken by migrants from African and Asian countries who were identified with threats such as terrorism, sexual crime, and theft,’ said Anna Tatar from the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association. She added, ‘It is sad that this type of content was repeated by representatives of all parties.’
– ‘Video materials shared on social media played a particular role in spreading false and harmful image of migrants. Short videos, without any information about when they were recorded, with racist comments, are one of the most common forms of political manipulation,’ said Rafal Pankowski from the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association. ‘Such content subsequently generated hateful comments from more and more users,’ he emphasised.
The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association participates in the international project SafeNet (Monitoring and Reporting for Safer Online Environments), in which it monitors and reports content propagating hatred towards minorities to social media platforms. In September and October, out of 55 items reported to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube… none of them were removed. The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association, as a Trusted Flagger, sent reports again to each of these platforms, containing detailed information about posts promoting hate. As a result,… 4 such items were removed.
Selected examples of statements documented in the report ‘«Shoot them.» Hate speech in the election campaign in Poland’:
– On 2 July Roman Giertych, former leader of far-right Mlodziez Wszechpolska (All-Polish Youth) and Koalicja Obywatelska (Civic Coalition) candidate in the parliamentary elections, shared a video on Twitter that showed a group of men chased by the police and added his own comment, ‘Twenty years from now, due to having allowed hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Muslim countries into Poland, we may witness such scenes on the streets of Warsaw.’
– On 8 July, Dariusz Matecki, Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc (PiS; Law and Justice) candidate for the Sejm (lower chamber of Polish Parliament) in the Szczecin constituency, published a comment on Twitter expressing his appreciation for the far-right militants who on 8 July invaded the Pride Fest festival in Tbilisi (Georgia) organised by the LGBT community.
– On 20 July in Bydgoszcz Dr. Slawomir Ozdyk, far-right Konfederacja (Confederation party) candidate in the Sejm elections (lower chamber of the Polish Parliament), presented a xenophobic, even grotesque vision of life in Western European countries. He said, ‘The German mainstream media describe what is happening there by saying that entire city districts have been taken over by migrant gangs. Let me repeat, by Arab-Chechen gangs.’
– On 20 July, Janusz Korwin-Mikke, far-right Konfederacja (Confederation party) MP and its candidate in the Sejm elections in Warsaw suburbs, posted a homophobic entry on Twitter. He declared, ‘Condemning homosexuality is one of the European values.’
– On 26 July, the far right wRealu24 channel on the BanBye platform broadcast a conversation with Dr. Andrzej Zapalowski, Professor at University of Rzeszow and Konfederacja (Confederation party) candidate in the parliamentary elections, made a false statement that ‘well over a million Ukrainian citizens live in Poland at the expense of the Polish taxpayer.’
– On 5 August in Zielona Gora, a huge election banner of MP Lukasz Mejza (unaffiliated, previously associated with the Kukiz’15 movement) appeared, containing xenophobic content. The poster displayed the slogans: ‘Accepting migrants – rape and terror,’ ‘Poland without migrants – safe Poland.’
– On 17 August, during the parliamentary debate, the Minister of Education and Science Przemyslaw Czarnek linked the presence of migrants in Western European countries with sexual crimes against women, ‘Polish women are safe in Poland, because there are no illegal immigrants. […] And you don’t pay attention to the threat and want them to be raped, like in France or Belgium.’
- On 6 September, Jacek Cwieka, Konfederacja (Confederation party) candidate for the Senate, posted on Twitter that war crimes in Bucha and Irpin [two neighbouring towns in Ukraine where Russian troops have committed mass atrocities against the civilian population] ‘were, after all, a hoax.’ He also spoke in defense of the Russian president, ‘Today, all the inciters are going insane, because there is no evidence to call Putin a war criminal.’
– On 7 September, Adam Gbiorczyk, far-right Konfederacja (Confederation party) candidate for the Senate, published a comment on Twitter in which he questioned the mass extermination in the Nazi camps. He wrote, ‘The mere existence of the camps is not evidence of the death of millions, it is only evidence of the existence of the camps.’
– On 17 September, Dr. Krystyna Pawlowicz, Judge of the Constitutional Tribunal and former Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc (Law and Justice) MP, posted a comment on Twitter containing a term that dehumanises refugees and migrants (she called them ‘savages’).
In March 2023, the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association published the ‘Brown Book’ – documentation of racist, xenophobic and homophobic crimes and acts of discrimination in Poland in the years 2020-2023. Over 300 pages describe cases of physical assaults on the basis of skin colour, language, or religion, as well as acts of verbal aggression. In addition, the report documents street demonstrations with slogans inciting hatred, acts of discrimination against minorities, and fascist banners displayed at football stadiums. Examples of hostility towards refugees from Ukraine can also be found therein.
The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association is an independent anti-racist organization founded in Warsaw in 1996. It has campaigned against antisemitism and xenophobia, for peace, intercultural dialogue and human rights both in Poland and internationally. It has actively participated in international civil society networks, including the Global Alliance Against Digital Hate and Extremism (GAADHE) and the International Network Against Cyber Hate (INACH). It takes part in international projects to counter hate speech, Get The Trolls Out and SafeNet.
‘«Shoot them.» Hate speech in the election campaign in Poland’ (full version of the report – PDF).