A Polish Border Police Officer Detained Me and Discarded Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko ‘Passionate’

KUZNICA, Poland — After a night of tear gas, water cannons and fireworks, Tomas, a tall, gray-haired man Polish Border Guard, looks haggard.

“None of us want to do this job,” he told The Daily Beast while standing in a police station in the small Polish border town of Kuznica. His colleague, a short young woman with curly black hair, looked like she hadn’t slept in days. “Everybody is exhausted,” she said, as she bent her head forward.

Over the past month, the quaint town — home to just under 2,000 people — has been thrust into the center of a major geopolitical migration crisis. Tomas and his colleagues had spent the previous evening pushing back the wave of refugees trying across the EU border from Belarus, led to some violent confrontations. “It was quiet today, but last night was completely chaotic,” he said.

That Thursday night, I was arrested for entering a restricted area in an attempt to interview migrants (journalists are barred from entering a ‘no-go zone’ three kilometers from the border). But instead of directing their anger at me, the border police had selective words for a certain dictator. Tomas said: “We just want to go back to our home and family and live our normal lives. “It’s all the fault of the insane president there,” he added, thumbing behind us toward Belarus.

Nearly 17,000 Polish police, military and security officials have been sent to guard the country’s borders in the face of a refugee crisis orchestrated by the dictator next door. Thousands of refugees have been trapped here for months invitation of Alexander Lukashenko, the President of Belarus, who has ruled the country for 26 years. Belarus has been EU sanctions about the brutal suppression of nationwide protests that erupted against an election widely seen as a rigged national election last August.

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Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko speaks during a joint press conference at the Kremlin on September 9, 2021 in Moscow, Russia.

Mikhail Svetlov / Getty

Both as a bargaining chip and out of revenge, Belarusian travel agencies have brought thousands of people from war-torn regions such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria to Minsk and taken them to the EU border, where they try to cross Poland. and other Eastern European countries. About a dozen migrants have died from the squalid conditions and freezing temperatures, including a toddler Syrian child.

“If they don’t starve, they will freeze.

It seems that among the many journalists who have been detained here, I am one of the lucky ones who got out with only a small fine. Just Tuesday, three journalists from another border area reported being handcuffed and threatened despite claiming to be journalists. A local reporter told The Daily Beast that his colleagues had their cars vandalized by unidentified masked men. But this is nothing compared to the suffering of the refugees, who have found themselves pawns in a dangerous geopolitical game.

The exclusion zone applies not only to journalists but also to NGOs and aid workers. Only troops and residents of towns were allowed in with a special permit. Red Cross employees have also reported being denied access to the area. Anya, a volunteer with the NGO Doctors on the Border, told The Daily Beast they are one of the only organizations equipped to help those in need. “But because we work under Polish law, we can’t get into the areas where we can help the most. We can only operate in border areas that are not subject to emergency laws,” she said.

Some activists and aid workers refuse to be deterred by harsh Polish government restrictions. Instead, they have chosen to sneak in and out of excluded border areas to provide aid and comfort to those suffering the cold. They brought food, blankets and even set up makeshift medical relief stations. If caught, they will face a $300 fine for the first offense, but could be prosecuted under new national security laws if detained a second time.

A woman who manages one of these groups, who only wants to be called Mia, is concerned that she might be the target of security services. “If I want to be frank with you about things, I need to throw my phone out the window,” she told The Daily Beast.

Many refugees are ignorant of the harsh winter conditions they will face at the border, and have few warm clothes. It is bitterly cold. “If they didn’t starve to death,” Mia said, “they would freeze instead.”

Organizations on the ground have also taken a stand against Polish authorities, accusing them of inhuman and cruel treatment of refugees and aid workers.

“If we take someone to the hospital in Bialystok [the closest major city]The border guards will escort them and bring them home as soon as we give them first aid. Someone who just went through an operation could be thrown right back in the snow,” explains Mia. She also said that she and her colleagues will sneak lawyers to restricted areas, who will bring the necessary documents to help migrants apply for asylum, and then file the paperwork. with Polish authorities. This rarely works, she said, and the vast majority of asylum requests are denied.

We don’t have exact figures on the number of migrants stranded at the border, but between five and ten thousand are rough guesses by people who spoke to The Daily Beast.

After the EU diplomatic effort led by Germany, Mr. Lukashenko is showing signs of backing down. Belarusian state media have reported that the state has now begun cleaning up camps at the main border and relocating refugees to nearby warehouses. But thousands more, especially those who have crossed the EU border, are believed to be still hiding in the Polish forests.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/a-polish-border-cop-detained-me-and-dished-about-lunatic-belarusian-president-alexander-lukashenko?source=articles&via=rss A Polish Border Police Officer Detained Me and Discarded Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko ‘Passionate’

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