Last Saturday, 22 October 2016, Lemko ethnic minority representatives in the Joint Commission of Government and National and Ethnic Minorities organized a meeting, to which the following persons were invited: the leaders of church brotherhoods, Ukrainian unions and Lemko organizations. The meeting took place in the Knight Academy in Legnica and it was led by PhD Mirosława Kopystiańska and prof. Stefan Dudra – Lemko members of the Joint Commission of Government and National and Ethnic Minorities. The meeting was also attended by representatives of: the Center of the Orthodox Culture “Elpis” in Gorlice, the Lemko Union, The Lemko Folk Song and Dance Ensemble “Kyczera”, Lemko Tower Association, the Society for the Development of the Museum of Lemkos Culture in Zyndranowa, Ruska Bursa Association in Gorlice and the Lemko Association. Also, representatives of the media were present there.
The agenda suggested by the organizers dealt largely with the issue of the resettlements of Lemkos within the Vistula Operation, the anniversary of which will be in 2017. The meeting’s hosts suggested that all the organizations pay attention to the sad event. In this way, until 10 November 2016, they were asked to send their suggestions as to the way of celebration of the anniversary, delegating one person (each organization) that would enter the commission to take care of celebrations on the 70th anniversary of exile.
The idea itself to jointly celebrate the anniversary of Lemko ordeal was rather welcomed by all the participants. There were questions concerning the details – how to commemorate the sad event taking into consideration different beliefs and attitudes towards the Lemko ethnic minority, or if the events would be celebrated on a bigger scale, together with Ukrainian organizations, the Greek and Orthodox Churches. This part of the discussion showed also another result of the tragedy of resettlements, pointed out by Jerzy Starzyński. He reminded that, also the Romanians who live in Lemkovyna were resetlled together with Lemkos, and they ended up in the Western Poland in 1947 only because they were Greek Catholics.
The author of these words observed that there is still a belief in the official research, activities, as well as inquisitorial proceedings concerning the Vistula Operation which does not point to the fact that Lemkos were resettled from their autochthonic lands at all, they are still considered to be Ukrainians, which infringes the law of the Republic of Poland. Also, it is exclusively a continuation of a lie, fictive and promoted by the communists. Thus, the preparations of the anniversary could be the best way to remind that Lemkos were not resettled because if their fault, which was ignored in the public opinion during the communist period, including the Polish environment. Unfortunately, the belief still exists in Ukrainian historiography which continues to spread the communist ideology, invented in the 1920s by Comintern and other communist institutions.
In connection with the 70th anniversary of the Vistula Operation, the members of the Joint Commission of Government and National and Ethnic Minorities, as organizers of the meeting, suggested on their behalf, as well as on behalf of others, the ways to commemorate the resettlements. They asked the meeting’s participants to suggest persons whose candidatures could be sent to the central governments that decide on awarding national prizes. It is worth mentioning that among tens of the candidacies, also beliefs such as “the tragedy of the Vistula Operation is not the best time for such events” appeared.
Quite an abstract part of the meeting in Legnica was the next agenda point, i.e. discussing “the current situation of associations and Lemko organizations.” The, quite unclear statement, showed the organizers’ naivety – PhD Mirosława Kopystiańska’s and prof. Stefan Dudra’s who thought that “the current situation of associations”, i.e. raising the subject of interior matters of the Lemko Association in public, is an area under their competence. It is not about getting problems round, but interior problems of any organization dealt with in such a way that that the Joint Commission of Government and National and Ethnic Minorities members did not even try to contact both sides on the matter – is a scandal, for sure not the proper way to solve problems, listening to arguments of one side only and compromising yourself not knowing the case. It took a dozen or so minutes to explain the Joint Commission of Government and National and Ethnic Minorities members that they rise to out-of-date problems, from about a year before, which have been solved long ago.
This topic initiated further criticising – in this case justified – of the actions declared by Lemko Association, which were not redeemed by them. It was about the educational issue – teaching Lemko, the process was to be coordinated by the Association from Legnica, to which they committed themselves at an organizational meeting in Gorlice, in 2015.
The last minutes of the meeting organized by representatives of Lemko ethnic minority in the Joint Commission of Government and National and Ethnic Minorities, were the occasion to rise the issue of damaging Lemko boards in Lemkovyna, we wrote about it on our website. The recent xenophobic action of this kind occured in Gładyszów, probably at night 30.09.2016/01.10.2016. Lem.fm editors took up the issue immediately, reporting it to the local authorities, we also emphasized the fact that the 57th Meeting of Joint Commission in the Ministry of Interior and Administration (that took place a few days later, i.e. 5.10.2016 in Warsaw), where hate speech and aggression towards minorities were discussed, was not attended by both the representatives of Lemko minority. As a result, the board issue was not discussed at the meeting, convoked exactly in this purpose. It is not about the fact that there were reasons for which the representatives could not attend the meeting. It is just that, although they have such possibility – they did not delegate anyone, neither they notified officially this particular problem to be raised, which was possible even without their presence. There were representatives of the highest national institutions whose task is to counter the acts of intolerance towards minorities (the Polish Police, the Prosecution General of the Republic of Poland, the Polish Border Guard, as well as Ministry of Interior and Administration officials).
That was the main reason for which we went to Legnica last Saturday. On 11 October 2016, we sent an inquiry to PhD Mirosława Kopystiańska and prof. Stefan Dudra in which we asked for explanations. During the telephone call, which was simultaneously an invitation for the meeting in Legnica, we were informed that the discussion will deal also with this issue. And it was like this. Eventually, we got to know that the topic of Lemko boards will be notified at the next meeting of the Joint Commission of Government and National and Ethnic Minorities. It will take place on 21 December 2016. It will have been 81 days after damaging the boards in Gladyszów. It will also be 3 days before the Christmas Eve according to the New Style, just when most of the attendants will be probably thinking about making dumplings and decorating the tree.