Monday, January 17

Tensions at Belarusian borders – Serious human rights violations by Belarus and Poland

(Belga) Tensions on the Belarusian-Polish border lead to serious human rights violations against migrants and asylum seekers by both governments, Human Rights Watch points out in a report released Wednesday.

The 26-page report, titled “‘Die Here or Go to Poland’: Belarus’ and Poland’s Shared Responsibility for Border Abuses” “, editor’s note), documents serious abuses on both sides. It is based on in-depth interviews, carried out on site in October 2021, with 19 people (single men, single women or families with children). Among the facts denounced, migrants say they have been pushed back, sometimes violently, by Polish border guards to Belarus despite requests for asylum. Families also say they have been separated. In Belarus, stories of violence, inhuman and degrading treatment and coercion by Belarusian guards are also denounced. “While Belarus fabricated this situation without taking into account the human consequences, Poland shares the responsibility for the acute suffering occurring in the border area”, underlines Lydia Gall, research officer for Europe and Central Asia at by Human Rights Watch. The regime of Alexander Lukashenko, which has ruled Belarus with an iron fist since 1994, is accused of having attracted several thousand migrants to its country since the summer before transporting them to the eastern borders of the European Union, in order to avenge Western sanctions. “In recent weeks, Poland has thus faced, on its border with Belarus, a large influx of people mainly from Middle Eastern countries. While Belarus had promised them easy passage to Europe, the candidates for exile found themselves stranded at the border in difficult conditions. “Men, women and children have been transferred across the border in freezing weather for days or weeks, in desperate need of humanitarian aid. on both sides, “Lydia Gall said. People Human Rights Watch spoke to gave poignant accounts of crossings of forests, swamps and swamps, and rivers in freezing temperatures, without food. no water. Some said they had to drink water from the swamps or collect rainwater from the leaves to drink. At least 13 people died due to inhumane conditions , including a one-year-old Syrian boy. Belarusian and Polish authorities have an obligation to prevent further deaths by ensuring regular humanitarian access to those stranded in the border area, Human Rights Watch said. The two countries should also immediately end refoulements and allow independent observers, including journalists and human rights defenders, to access the currently restricted border areas. “Belarus may have orchestrated the crisis, but that does not absolve Poland and the European institutions of their human rights obligations,” Human Rights Watch also recalls. (Belga)

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