Top Polish officials to visit London following attacks on Poles

People pay their respects ahead of a minute's silence, at the shopping centre where exactly a week ago Arek Jozwik was killed, in Harlow, Essex, east of London on September 3, 2016 © Justin Tallis
The Polish Foreign Ministry has announced that three government ministers are to make an urgent visit to London following a rise in attacks on Poles living in Britain.

“In connection with the recent incidents targeting Polish citizens in Britain, the following ministers are planning a trip to London: Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski, Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro and Interior Minister Mariusz Blaszczak,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Rafal Sobczak told Polish media on Sunday.

The visit of the top ministers will take place on Monday, according to Sobczak.

The decision of the Polish government was announced hours after two Poles were attacked in Harlow, to the northeast of London. The attack came just hours after a vigil for another Polish citizen killed in August that took place in the same area.

One of the victims of the most recent attack – which took place at around 3:30am on Sunday – suffered a broken nose while the other suffered a cut to his head, according to a police report.

“This was a vicious and horrible attack,” police official Trevor Roe said, British media reported.

“Although we are considering this matter as a potential hate crime, it is not being linked with the attack at The Stow last weekend,” he added, speaking of the murdered factory worker Arek Jozwik, 40, who was attacked by a gang of at least 20 teenagers in the same area on August 27.

Saturday's vigil held in Jozwik‘s memory attracted hundreds of people who carried Polish flags and laid flowers and lit candles at a bench with his photo.

Six adolescents suspected of being involved in the murder were arrested and subsequently released on bail. The motive behind the killing remains unclear.

Poland is calling on the British authorities to take steps to protect Poles from xenophobic attacks, Foreign Ministry spokesman Sobczak told reporters at a briefing on Sunday.

Poland is expecting to see “assurances from the British side that the country would provide safety for Poles and launch a new education program that will raise awareness of how useful Poles are for the British society and economy, that they are not a burden,” Sobczak said.

“Great Britain’s breakup with the EU cannot mean that Poles with a legal status and job there should suffer,” Sobczak concluded.

Poles represent one of the biggest minority groups in Britain with some 800,000 believed to live there permanently.