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Companies pull ads from TV station after derogatory comments on migrants

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TV Republika is in trouble after the station’s commentators said that “migrants should be sent to Auschwitz or branded”.

ANNOUNCEMENT

Prosecutors in Poland are investigating after disparaging comments made by a right-wing television station that migrants should be sent to Auschwitz or be tattooed or microchipped like dogs, and some companies have pulled advertising from the station.

This was stated last week by some guests of TV Republika, a private broadcaster whose role as a platform for conservative ideas has grown after the national conservative Law and Justice party lost control of the Polish government and public media.

During its eight years in power, Law and Justice transformed taxpayer-funded state television into a programming platform that viewed large-scale immigration to Europe as an existential danger.

State media broadcast conspiracy theories, such as claims that liberal elites wanted to force people to eat insects, as well as anti-Semitic and homophobic content and attacks on party opponents, including new Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

Spreading hate speech is a crime under Polish law.

While under the previous government public television broadcasters were protected from legal and market pressures, TV Republika now faces both.

IKEA said it would pull its advertising from the station, prompting some conservative politicians to urge people to boycott the Swedish home products giant. Other companies, including Carrefour and MasterCard, later said they would also withdraw their ads.

The controversial live statements were made as the European Union was trying to overhaul its outdated asylum system, including with a plan to resettle migrants who arrived illegally in recent years.

Jan Pietrzak, a satirical writer and actor, told TV Republika that he made a “cruel joke” in response to that idea.

“We have barracks for immigrants: in Auschwitz, Majdanek, Treblinka, Stutthof,” Pietrzak said, referring to the concentration and extermination camps that Nazi German forces operated in occupied Poland during World War II.

Three days later, Marek Król, former editor of the Polish weekly Wprost, said that migrants could be chipped like dogs, referring to microchips that can help reunite lost pets with their owners, but that it would be cheaper tattoo numbers on their pets. left arms.

Since then Pietrzak has appeared from the sky. TV Republika’s programming director, Michał Rachoń, said the channel deeply disagreed with Król’s statement, but did not go so far as to say he had been banned from its airwaves.

Rachoń instead stated that the station “is the home of free speech, but also a place of respect for every human being.”

Even a right-wing MP, Marek Jakubiak, compared immigrants to “useless waste”. In that case Rachoń, who was the owner of the house, asked him to avoid “bad comparisons”.

Donald Tusk has strongly condemned the recent outbursts of xenophobia, saying they are the result of the fact that these people and their ideas have been rewarded for years by the previous government and current president Andrzej Duda.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum condemned the “immoral political statements about refugees”.

“This went beyond the limits of what is acceptable in the civilized world,” said director Piotr Cywiński.

Rafał Pankowski, head of the anti-racism group Never Again, said he was shocked by the comments but heartened by the disgust expressed on social media and by companies advertising.

ANNOUNCEMENT

“It’s gotten to the point where society, or much of it, is just fed up with all this hate speech,” Pankowski said. “The awareness and impatience have been building for quite some time.”

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