Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Eviction of Jan

Eviction of Jan Kwiatkowski from Galczyce in Wielkopolska, Poland. The area in which the farm is located, has been used to extend The Tomislawice open cast mine which belongs to PAK KWB Konin. 
Picture of Jan, from my project 'From the shadow of Toislawice Mine' is currentlybeeing exhibited in Lula, Sardinia. 
Check out the video made by Greenpeace Polska.

The story of Jan and his wife is real and quite shocking. It's not just that his farm is on the very edge of the mine and the buckets of the excavator turn slowly outside his window. Jan is the envy of the whole county - all of his land will be mined, they'll take the money and start life afresh.

Jan had problems with the valuation of his land. "I've been in court with the mine for four years now, and things are going that way because Polish courts are very just but also very slow. They've been taking my land for two years now," he gestures with his hand to a pit that begins just outside his window and stretches out to the horizon. "I wanted my price, they wanted theirs. The court is making its own valuation but that will take time and in the meantime the mine got a dispensation that allowed it to enter my property. And so I have no compensation and nothing to live off. Is this normal for this country - what do you think? Because I think that something is wrong here. They are trying to force me, plain and simple, like Lukashenka did in Ukraine, because if I have nothing to eat then I'll come to them on my knees. And the council has sent me a tax bill for the land which I no longer have, because they say that if I haven't relinquished the land to the mine in court then I have to pay tax on it. The fact that there's no land because now there's a pit is not important."
Jan, clearly irritated, shows the tax bill from the council, which has added punitive interest. "This year they're supposed to demolish my house and if I have nowhere to live then I get temporary accommodation somewhere in Wierzbnik. Because I can always just accept the compensation, their offer, based on their valuation."
Jan's wife says nothing but nods along to everything he says.  "At the public meeting they said that they will give a job to one son from each of the farms that will make way for the mine to compensate for their loss of inheritance. My son just graduated from the mining academy so they took him on and he worked for nine months in a mine. But because I stood up to them they let him go. They told him that if his father signs then they'll even find him a management job."
It's hard to believe all of this so Jan takes us on a tour of the house and the excavator is so close that it won't fit in the camera lens. A week later we learn that Jan is to get a visit from TV repoter Elżbieta Jaworowicz from documentary series "A case for a Reporter" so perhaps something will turn out well.
Unfortunately it didn’t. Jan has been evicted from his house…