People on the Belarusian border: “Pushed towards Poland by force”

As of: 11/29/2021 7:21 p.m.

For the migrants on the Belarusian border with the EU, the crisis is not over yet. They unanimously report that Belarusian soldiers put them in a predicament and incited them to violence.

By Demian von Osten, ARD Studio Moscow

Karar is one of the strong. The 27-year-old Iraqi is sporty and assertive. On the trip from Iraq through Belarus to Germany, he carried a girl with a disability on his back. But now he is at the end of his strength – because of the incidents with the Belarusian security forces. “I can’t sleep soundly,” says Karar. “I have nightmares. What I have experienced now accompanies me all the time.”

Karar’s escape story is one of more than 10,000 – according to the Federal Police, this is the number of people who made it to Germany via Belarus this year. Karar paid a smuggler from Minsk $ 3,000 after reading about the escape route through Belarus on social networks. At the border to Poland, a Belarusian border guard let him pass first, he got to Poland – but the Polish soldiers there sent him back.

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Demian von Osten, Amir Musawy, ARD Moscow, Weltspiegel 7:20 p.m., 11/28/2021

“Impossible to stay in Belarus”

Then Karar’s odyssey began with the Belarusian military. He and a family who fled found shelter in a tank workshop, actually they wanted to go back to Minsk. But the Belarusian soldiers prevented that, as he reports:

During the night they put us in a large military truck and brought us back to the Polish border. They yelled at and hit us – and pushed towards Poland with force. They said: There is no turning back for you refugees. Either you make it to Europe or you die here on the border.

The Belarusian soldiers cut open the border fence with a bolt cutter, says Karar. “Anyone who does not obey their orders will be frozen to death or beaten to death. It is impossible to stay in Belarus.” Karar managed to travel on to Germany with the help of smugglers. He now lives in Berlin in a home for asylum seekers. “After we arrived here in Germany, we understood that we were a kind of weapon for Belarus to put pressure on the EU. But we had no choice. We were at their mercy.”

“We were forced to attack”

Almost every day, Poland’s border guards publish pictures and videos of attempted border crossings. Belarusian soldiers can often be seen on it, mostly masked, some use green laser beams and strobe lights – presumably to distract the Polish border guards. Many migrants are currently from Brusgi. Around 1,800 people are housed in a warehouse at this border station – from Kurdistan in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan. In the evening, so many here say, Belarusian soldiers come and take people with them towards the border. The 16-year-old Amir says: “A Belarusian soldier said to me: Do you want to go to Poland? I asked him: How? And he said: With GPS. I replied: No, it’s snowing outside, it’s too cold. I can’t do this now. “

Other migrants in the camp confirm that they too were approached by border guards. But many are afraid of repeating this in public. The soldiers would forbid them to speak about it. Almost everyone in Brusgi is part of a group of around 2000 migrants who marched together towards the Polish border. The migrants organized themselves through a Telegram group, they say.

On November 16, migrants threw stones at the Polish border guards right at the border. Belarusian soldiers at least incited the migrants to do so, it becomes clear from discussions in the camp. Because the migrants were cold, they didn’t want to go back to Minsk, says 18-year-old Zanya Dishad Yousif, who was there. “They told us: We’ll only leave you behind if you attack them!” Above all, they forced young migrants to attack the Polish border guards. “The world now thinks we are criminals because we attacked, but we weren’t the ones who really attacked. We were forced to.”

Belarus’ state media put the reported attacks on the Polish side of the border in the picture. Whether photos like this picture from November 16 provided by the Belarusian border guard are staged or document an incident cannot be independently verified.

Image: EPA

“I won’t take a closer look at this”

Belarus’ ruler Alexander Lukashenko has sent a confidante to the region: Yuri Karajev, a former member of a special police unit, has been working in the Grodno region on behalf of the president since the end of October. As Minister of the Interior, he previously had the opposition protests clubbed down. In an interview with the, he wants Belarusian security forces to be involved in smuggling ARD studio Moscow know nothing: “When the migrants tried to cross the border at the border crossing, they were pushed aside and spread out in the woods and green areas. That’s all.”

In an interview with the BBC, however, his boss Lukashenko admits that his security forces may have helped migrants: “It may be that someone helped. But I won’t look closely at it.” There should be no investigations into the responsibility of the security forces in the smuggling of migrants through Belarus – just as there was no investigation last year after the brutal crackdown on the opposition protests.

For the migrants in Belarus, however, the crisis is far from over. Thousands are still in the country – and further extradited to Belarusian soldiers.

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