- Launched 23/09/2021
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We urge Germany and other EU countries to immediately suspend all Dublin transfers of asylum seekers to Poland, and provide humanitarian assistance to people from Afghanistan and other third countries dying of hunger and cold on the border of Poland with Belarus.
Today we stand in solidarity with people stuck between Poland and Belarus with no drinking water, no food, no shelter and no help. We stand in solidarity with the Polish NGO community, human rights activists and journalists who have been forbidden to enter the area near the border with Belarus. The Poland/Belarus border – with thousands of hungry people caught between steel fences, barbed wire, forests, wild animals, cold weather, rain – has become a mirror in which we can see clearly our own ethical values.
How will we react to this situation? As Europeans we are not prepared to be indifferent in the face of humanitarian crisis. We do not agree with violations of the right to live and other basic human rights. We do not agree with use of force and torture as is the case today on the Polish/Belarus border. No war, no state of emergency can be an excuse for the use of torture. The present situation is dramatic, also because there is very little media coverage and access to information as to what is really taking place in this isolated part of Poland where noone is allowed to enter. Today we want to break this silence.
The narrative about "Lukashenko's hybrid war" is just echoing his propaganda, but Polish activists who are still trying their best to monitor migrants' situation in the forest border area are reporting about sick and weak poeple - men, women and children - who do not pose any danger.
"Will you at least take care of our bodies when we die?" was the last text message received by activists while they could still communicate from one of the Afghan migrants who has now been cut off from any help for 42 days... Last weekend, information about four dead bodies was leaked to the media. There was also a report about at least one dead body being moved back from Poland to Belarus. In response to the first deaths reported by civilians, the Polish government sent more military to "protect the border" - most likely to protect it from leaks of more news like that. How many more deaths are not reported? How many dead bodies have been removed silently in the night in the territory where noone can enter? No-one knows.
We ask the governments in Germany and other EU member states to act today in solidarity, not only by imposing sanctions against Belarus, but in joint humanitarian response to support people who have become helpless victims of the political impasse. Belarus's recent exit from the EU's Eastern Partnership does not give the EU and its members the right to withdraw from its humanitarian, legal and international obligations to ensure the protection of people dying on the its eastern border.
The least that can be done today is to immediately suspend all Dublin transfers to Poland. The situation of foreigners who want to ask for asylum in Poland was already extremely difficult, even before the present crisis and the State of Emergency which the Polish Government called this month. For years, Poland has been carrying out illegal and systematic pushbacks of people trying to enter legally through the Brest/Terespol border crossing to apply for asylum. The State of Emergency has simply legalised this practice. Poland has no more space for asylum seekers in its open reception centres; and the system of detention centres into which most people coming from Germany are conveyed straight from the border allows women and children of all ages to be detained in prison-like conditions, not just for a few days but for long months and sometimes even more than a year. This one action - stopping Dublin transfers from Germany to Poland immediately – lies entirely in the power of German government.
We also ask EU countries, including Germany, to put political pressure on Poland to stop pushbacks to Belarus and allow immediate access to humanitarian assistance for people stuck on the the EU's eastern border between Poland and Belarus who are currently at mortal risk.
unfortunately due to the state of emergency declared by Poland there is no access to information and even more statistical data regarding pushbacks, amount of people caught between borders or on Polish territory where entry of any media, NGOs or independent observers is forbidden. Just as there is no systemic, transparent data regarding causalities on territory of Poland and Belarus and dead bodies found by Border Guard or Military.
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