No Borders Camp in Ustrzyki Gorne

July 19, 2000


We've returned from the camp in Ustrzyki on the Ukrainian-Slovakian-Polish border. Everything went fairly well given the conditions: it rained pratically the whole time making mountain hiking a bit tricky.

Over 150 people from different countries came: we had people there from Poland, Germany, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Slovakia, Holland, Finland, Austria, Bulgaria and Spain. The area has few inhabitants; the entire population of Ustrzyki Gorne was deported after WWII after the UPA (Ukrainian partisan army) became active in the area. There were three main actions. First, there was a demo in front of the border police in Lutowiski where people shouted slogans and burned a symbolic border crossing. The second action was supposed to be the most important - the illegal crossing of the border. But there were torrential rains and only about 25 of the most enthusiastic and hardy campers decided to make the four hour hike up the mountain trails. Still, when they got there they found out that the border police had been waiting there for 3 days and had to mobilize everyone they had (about 1500 people) to stop us. So, needless to say, nobody managed to cross. Finally, during the last action there was a protest at the building site of a new border guard HQ; people climbed a tower and hung a banner.

These actions got some press coverage and generally they were fairly successful despite the rain. During the actions there was no great problems with the police (we outnumbered them and also they came to the camp the night before the actions when we were showing riot videos and got scared of us). Unfortunately as people started to leave they began to harrass folks and deported Slovaks who had come illegally to join us.

(We welcome them the alter-ee!)

We have some good ideas for next year to make an action on the Polish-Lithuanian-Belarussian border (with a possible side trip to the Kaliningrad region). The town of Sejny has had some ethnic and border conflicts recently; there is a Lithuanian majority in this town on the Polish side of the border. After the camp, Belarussians hopefully will be able to do a concert/festival on their side of the border.

Laure