On Monday, October 3rd, the Border Guard detained a 30-year-old graduate student at the Jagiellonian University from Iraq and placed him in a refugee center in Przemysl. According to authorities, he was threatening the safety of Poland, although the nature of the risk was not specified.
Ameer Alkhawlany was last seen on Monday in the city center, on the day of the”black protest.” He was approached by Border Guard officials on Sławkowska Street who then detained him. It is only known that the Iraqi was taken to court, which immediately decided to place him in the Guarded Centre for Foreigners in Przemysl. He was given a week to appeal against this decision. Otherwise, he will have to leave Poland.
“For me, all this is inconceivable. I can’t believe what has happened to Ameer. He was one of my best students. I even wanted him to help me in the field exercises next Saturday.”– said his promoter prof. January Weiner, a lecturer at the Institute of Environmental Sciences at the Jagiellonian University. Ameer’s interests lay in analytical chemistry, ecology and natural sciences. Previously, he studied environmental protection at the University of Diyala in Bakuba near Baghdad.
More than two years ago, he enrolled in the international master’s degree program at the Jagiellonian University. He chose paid studies in biology at the Department of Biology and Earth Sciences. This year, he defended his master’s thesis. He even received a scholarship from the Polish government and decided to continue his studies in Cracow. He was admitted for doctoral studies at the Jagiellonian University in the same department. He leads a project on global warming.
“Ameer is staying in Poland legally. He has an agreement to stay until January 2017 and wanted to extend it. For sure Ameer had his Jagiellonian University card when approached by the Board Guard. Maybe he did not have other documents they required of him.”– said prof. Weiner.
The court declared that the decision to place the Iraqi in the facility at Przemysl was determined by the Chief of the Internal Security Agency who has concluded Ameer must leave Poland. “The basis for this decision was that the behavior of the foreigner posed a threat to The Republic of Poland” – wrote the court. The nature of the threat was not specified, shielded by the secrecy clause for materials collected by the Internal Security Agency. The arrest was due to concerns that Ameer may flee along with “security considerations.”
Although Ameer is said to pose a threat to the country, he was easily reached by telephone. “In court, I asked the judge why I was detained and heard that this is a secret. I still don’t know why I was arrested” – said Ameer. “I am an academic working on a research project. I always tried to avoid problems. I never did anything for me to be suspected of posing a threat to the safety of Poland. For me, this is all absurd” – Ameer continued.
In the interview, Ameer described that the proceedings lasted 10 minutes and he did not have a lawyer. “I was asked what I had to say for myself. I told them what I was doing in Poland, and that I had no idea why I have been detained. In response, I heard that this is a secret.”
Ameer faces immediate deportation.
On Sunday, friends of Ameer and civil rights activists gathered at the District Court to demand his release. “We will not let go of Ameer’s case. We have many friends who are foreigners. Being apathetic about this case provides a precedent for the situation to be repeated. The Border Guard will come to the next demonstration, arrest someone and we will never see that person again” – said a young man. “Ameer is probably a sacrifice for political theater. The government wants to show us that it is necessary for it to protect us. That is why it selects people upon which it can test its tools, which it received thanks to the antiterrorism law. In addition, it builds xenophobia. In this way, the government shows that foreigners are a threat. This is how it generates support.” – declared a friend of Ameer.
Others were upset that the Jagiellonian University administration has not come to the defense of its student.