Belarus and Poland accused of “brutal violence” against migrants to EU

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Amnesty International Monday accused Belarus and EU member Poland for subjecting migrants to “brutal violence” while seeking entry into the European Union.

The human rights organization said it took testimonies from 72 affected Iraqi, Syrian and Sudanese nationals who described being pepper sprayed and beaten with batons. With several of them traveling with their family and friends, the testimonies represent a total of 192 people affected, he said.

Belarusian border forces subjected migrants to “”severe torture or other ill-treatment, including those deprived of food, water, shelter and sanitation, as well as the theft of phones and money or extortion,The AI ​​said.

Instead of receiving the care they need, they are subjected to brutal violence,Jennifer Foster, AI researcher on refugees and migrant rights, said in a statement.

Those who made it into Poland had their phones damaged, pepper sprayed and pushed into rivers by Polish security services to return to Belarus, AI added.

The UK-based non-profit organization said Belarusian authorities refused to grant it access to interview migrants still stranded in the border area.

People at the border find themselves between a rock and a hard place,“AI said, adding that”opposing forces play a sordid game with human lives.

Thousands of migrants, mostly from the Middle East, have traveled to Belarus in recent months, camping near the Polish border and attempting to cross the country in what has become the biggest challenge at the EU’s borders since the crisis migrants in 2015.

Western governments have accused longtime Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of waging a “hybrid war” by luring migrants to his country to trigger a border crisis with the EU in revenge on Western sanctions. Lukashenko denies the charges.

Amnesty International also accuses EU members Poland, Latvia and Lithuania of violating the rights of migrants by holding them at the border for weeks and facilitating deportations.

While some migrants did manage to enter EU territory, most eventually returned to their countries of origin on specially organized evacuation flights.

Belarus must stop this violence immediately, and EU member states must stop denying people the chance to escape these egregious violations, let alone send them back to Belarus to face it again and again,“It said.

Also on Tuesday, the UN said a team it had sent to monitor the migrant crisis had been denied access to the border area on either side.


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