LONDON: Human Rights Watch has accused Poland and Belarus of “extreme ill-treatment of migrants and asylum-seekers,” as a whole lot of individuals from the Center East and Central Asia try and cross into the EU through the Polish border.
The group claimed Poland regularly pushed individuals touring from nations together with Iraq, Syria, Iran, Yemen, and Afghanistan again throughout its border, generally violently, contravening the suitable to asylum and the EU’s Constitution of Elementary Rights.
Because of this, migrants had been left stranded in Belarus the place they confronted “critical abuses, together with beatings and rape by border guards and different safety forces.”
HRW stated it had spoken to 9 individuals who had been trapped within the “inhospitable” border space, who documented how they’d been handled.
Whereas some stated Polish border guards had supplied them with meals, water, and different important merchandise, interviewees recalled how they’d been stranded, generally pressured to wander via swampland, forests, and rivers, consuming what little water they might supply when refused entry into Poland.
Different interviewees stated they’d been overwhelmed with batons by the Poles. At the least one individual is thought to have drowned after being pushed again by Polish border guards, and one other went lacking within the space in March 2022.
A Kurdish migrant, recognized solely as Ramzah, instructed HRW: “When the border guards got here, we requested for asylum and confirmed them papers the place we had written ‘asylum’ in Polish and English. They instructed us, ‘you don’t want these papers’ and threw them away.”
An asylum-seeker known as Malid, fleeing from Iran, stated: “We had walked in freezing chilly and snow for seven to eight hours when Belarusian guards caught us, and we have been moist, drained, and with out vitality. After forcing us to pay cash, they took us to the Polish border and made us undergo.
“We walked about two or three kilometers in Poland earlier than we bought arrested. They destroyed our telephones, and so they took my financial institution card … I requested them to point out us respect and since I did, I used to be kicked, punched, tasered, and pepper sprayed.”
HRW additionally spoke to Polish border guards who confirmed that they regularly pushed individuals again throughout the border into Belarus.
The actions of Belarusian border guards, in the meantime, have been considerably worse. Belarus constructed a makeshift camp at Bruzgi to accommodate 4,000 individuals in November 2021, which has since been dismantled, and it was so fundamental that folks had no warmth or electrical energy, have been pressured to sleep on picket pallets, and have been fed solely biscuits, as soon as a day, by the authorities.
Tales of abuse in opposition to migrants have been widespread, together with extortion, violence, and rape.
One refugee known as Abdullah, instructed HRW: “They (the Belarusian guards) pressured us to face in knee-high water for about 40 to 60 minutes whereas they ridiculed us. It was freezing chilly, snow in all places. Then they instructed us to cross the river. We had no choice. They instructed us, ‘go or we shoot you.’
“My buddy drowned within the river as he couldn’t swim. One other was swept down the river and disappeared, and two of us made it throughout however have been later pushed again.”
One other, named Rekan, claimed the Belarusians had set canine on him.
“One time we have been surrounded by border guards, and I sat down screaming and the canine bit me. The guards have been simply laughing. I couldn’t run. One other time, I wakened in my sleeping bag feeling ache in my foot and noticed how the canine was biting my toes. I screamed and pleaded with the guards to take away the canine.”
The interviewee named Ramzah additionally stated sexual assaults have been commonplace in Bruzgi.
“When it was the ladies’s flip to bathe, the border guards and police went inside to look at them. I noticed that when, however I don’t know if anything contained in the tent occurred to the ladies and women,” he added.
Polish human rights lawyer, Ola Chrzanowska, instructed HRW that one in every of her purchasers, a 35-year-old feminine Iraqi refugee who fled throughout the border together with her 16-year-old daughter, had been raped by Belarusian border guards in entrance of her daughter at a facility by the camp.
Lydia Gall, senior Europe and Central Asia researcher at HRW, stated: “It’s unacceptable that an EU nation is forcing individuals, many fleeing warfare and oppression, again into what can solely be described as hellish circumstances in Belarus.
“To stop additional deaths, abuse, and struggling, Polish authorities ought to instantly cease pushbacks to Belarus,” she added.