Belarusian forces help cross into Poland but beat up those who fail

Belarusian forces help cross into Poland but beat up those

Thousands of migrants are still massed on the Belarusian border. Iraq has repatriated hundreds of volunteers, but at the same time, Belarusian forces continue to urge migrants to cross the border into Europe. The testimony of Bahadin, an Iraqi Kurd stranded at the Belarusian border.

With Oriane Verdier, of the International service of RFI

Bahadin is one of the figures of the popular uprising against the authorities of Iraqi Kurdistan. In Belarus, he has become the point of contact for the Kurds who are massed in the buffer zone between Poland and Belarus and who are trying to cross the border to Europe.

Every day people call me when they are blocked and they send me their location, he explains. There must be 200 people stranded all along the border, and that’s just the ones who contacted me. They are rejected by the Polish police and find themselves stranded between the two Polish and Belarusian barbed wire.

Pliers for cutting barbed wire

According to Bahadin, Belarusian police go so far as to provide pincers to open their border and send migrants to Poland. But if they fail, they are badly beaten.

“They beat us for almost three hours with the butts of their rifles and electric batons, says Sirwan, Bahadin’s friend. They released the dogs on us and then took us back to a horrible camp without giving us any food or water. They told us that it was a punishment for wanting to cut the Belarusian fence. After two and a half days they finally gave us a bottle of water for the 21 people of us. A bottle and a little bread. And then they took us back to this hangar.

Sirwan received further requests from Belarusian police to attempt to cross it again at night.

“We are offered to go to Iraq or Poland”

Bahadin adds to the testimony of his friend Sirwan and refers to people found dead in the buffer zone.

Here they ask us who wants to return to Iraq and who wants to cross the border. If you choose to cross the border, you get turned back by the Poles and there people find themselves stranded in the buffer zone between the two countries. Because there are two fences : the Belarusian first, then 500 or 600 meters further, the Pole. If you want to retrace your steps by cutting the Belarusian fence, there they arrest you and severely beat you. The other day, out of 22 people, only one made it to Europe. The others returned and were arrested by the Belarusians who had dogs.

The majority of the migrants were gathered in hangars, but the Belarusian authorities found two dead near their borders and accuse their European neighbors of being responsible for these tragedies. On the spot, the migrants fear that the number of people freezing to death will be much higher.

Officially, two bodies were found in this buffer zone. But there are surely other people who are frozen to death all along the border and whose bodies have not yet been found, Bahadin believes. Several people who attempted the crossing said they saw dead bodies.

To listen: “Why are we fleeing, in your opinion?”: An Iraqi repatriated from the Belarusian border testifies