60-mo Aniversârio da AKCJA WISLA (Operação Wisla)
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On April 28, 1947 the government of Poland commenced the implementation of a military operation, Akcja Wisla, to relocate the inhabitants of those Ukrainian ethnic territories that had become part of the post-war Polish state, and dispersed them in non-concentrated numbers throughout western and northern Poland. When Akcja Wisla was completed, some one hundred and fifty thousand Ukrainians had been forcibly relocated and several thousand Ukrainian civilians including women, children and clergy had been interned in the Central Labour Camp in Jaworzno, at the site of what had once been a branch of the Nazi death camp in Auschwitz. To date no serious attempt has been made by the government of the now democratic Republic of Poland to redress this wrong. In 1990 the Polish Senate condemned Akcja Wisla as the evil doing of a communist totalitarian regime. In 2002 Polish President Kwasniewski in a letter to a scholarly conference condemned the action as well, acknowledging Polish guilt but offering no redress. The Polish Sejm (Parliament), the most powerful legislative organ, has refused to address this issue. Some Polish officials have justified the ethnic cleansing during Akcja Wisla as a necessary step in liquidating the remnants of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, a guerilla formation operating in Ukraine as well as in Ukrainian ethnic territories, which became part of post-war Poland. This argument must be rejected as unacceptable, since in the post-war period in Poland various, more numerous Polish guerilla movements were active, but ethnic cleansing of the entire population was used only against the Ukrainian population. Other officials have justified it as “payback” for Ukrainian atrocities against Poles on Ukrainian territory. However, this argument is of recent vintage and began to appear in publications some 50 years after Akcja Wisla. Such justification was not used in contemporary documents and propaganda. Compensation has been offered to many Polish inmates of the Jaworzno concentration camp, but none to Ukrainians. The lack of compensation to Ukrainian inmates of Jaworzno has been justified officially by the assertion that compensation is due only to those who were persecuted for political or religious activity related to the struggle for an independent and sovereign Poland. The consequence has been that even Ukrainians sent to the Central Labour Camp in Jaworzno without any proof of guilt or court sentences are deemed not to qualify for rehabilitation or compensation. The ethnic cleansing of all Ukrainians during Akcja Wisla from the most westerly parts of the Ukrainian ethnic territory is a major tragedy suffered by the Ukrainian people, following the Great Famine of 1932-33 and the terrible losses of WWII. The avowed refusal of the Government of the Republic of Poland to condemn, redress and compensate Akcja Wisla is being addressed by the Ukrainian World Congress to the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the European Union and the United Nations. The UWC believes that significant pressure must be imposed on the Polish government by governments of other countries before Poland does what is right. For this reason, we appeal to the President of Ukraine and Ukrainian communities throughout the world: join your Ukrainian brethren who suffered this injustice in commemorating this tragedy with requiems and conferences. To the President of Ukraine in particular we say: make this issue a component of contemporary Ukrainian-Polish relations. To our communities throughout the world we say: bring this matter to the attention of your governments so that they may impress upon the government of the Republic of Poland the need to address and redress in good faith and with reasonable tangibility. Akcja Wisla is not merely a remnant of a nefarious past. It is very much a part of the lives of the contemporary Ukrainian community in Poland. The government of Poland must recognize that the Republic of Poland is not merely the home of a largely homogeneous Polish population but the indigenous homeland of other nationalities, including Ukrainians.
Toronto-New York, December 30, 2006 For the Ukrainian World Congress Askold S. Lozynskyj, President Jurij Darewych, Chair, Commission on Human and Civil Rights