WARSAW, Poland (AP) – Thirteen activists were arrested in Poland on Sunday for attempting to destroy part of a barbed wire barrier that the Polish authorities built along the border with Belarus to prevent migrants from entering the country.
The activists said it was an act of protest against the Polish authorities for what they believed to be “inhuman treatment” of migrants trying to enter the EU.
Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski, responsible for police and security, said the behavior of the demonstrators was “absolutely unacceptable” and that those arrested would “bear all legal consequences of their actions”.
According to Polish media reports, twelve Poles and one Dutch citizen were among those arrested.
Poland – like Lithuania – has seen a surge in migrants across its border with Belarus in recent weeks. The government in Warsaw accuses Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of sending migrants from Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere across the border in a “hybrid war” in order to create instability in the 27-state EU. The borders of Lithuania and Poland with Belarus are part of the EU’s eastern border.
In response, Poland has started building a barbed wire fence along the border.
On the spot, however, the focus is heavily on 32 people – referred to as Afghans by a refugee group – who have been stuck in a no man’s land on the border near the Polish village of Usnarz Górny for weeks. Poland’s government says they are on Belarusian soil and are not letting them go the short distance to Poland to apply for asylum. Belarus is responsible for this.
In a statement, the activists who tried to cut through the barbed wire fence said: “We do not consent to the humiliation, inhuman treatment and refusal to provide medical assistance to refugees, and we do not consent to the use of illegal push-back procedures. “.”
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