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Crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border. Deputy Ombudsman Wojciech Brzozowski on visiting the border with Belarus and talking to migrants

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The new deputy Ombudsman, Wojciech Brzozowski, visited the Polish-Belarusian border, where the migration crisis is still ongoing. In the “Tak jest” program, he said that “the most moving experience” was a visit to the hospital, where he talked to refugees. “Once you hear certain things, you can’t hear them anymore,” he admitted. He reported that the migrants spoke “of their fear, how they were freezing, how they lay waiting for someone to find them”. – They talk about it without looking into the eyes, often avoiding making eye contact, gasping for air with emotions. These are things you can’t play, you can’t fake it.”


Professor of the University of Warsaw Wojciech Brzozowski, the newly appointed deputy Ombudsman, was a guest of the program “Tak jest” on TVN24. In the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights, he took the place of the dismissed Hanna Machińska, who was strongly involved in defending the rights of migrants. This was particularly evident in its actions in the face of the crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border, caused by the regime of Alyaksandr Lukashenka, called by the West a “hybrid war”, for which the Belarusian leader uses migrants instrumentally.

Brzozowski, who met with activists and refugees at the border last week, was asked about the actions of the Polish Border Guard against migrants in the “Tak jest” program on TVN24 and the so-called push backs, i.e. pushing them back beyond the Polish border after crossing it .

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The deputy ombudsman assessed that “there is a human drama” behind each of these cases. – These are push backs – I see no reason why we shouldn’t use this word. This is a practice (…) which is incompatible with international standards – he assessed.

SEE ALSO: Migrants continue to make their way from the territory of Belarus to Poland

Professor Wojciech Brzozowski, Deputy OmbudsmanTVN24

Brzozowski took over the position of Machińska. “What has happened so far will happen. These will not be idle words”

Brzozowski assured that despite the change in the position of the Deputy Commissioner, “nothing will change”. “It was very important to me that it was very loud,” he said.

He added that he had gone to the border with Belarus “not primarily to look at something with my own eyes, but above all to start building trust.” – I have a feeling that this personnel change, which took place in the position of the Deputy Commissioner, has caused many people and many circles great fears as to who will come, what will happen now, what will happen. It was very important for me to give a strong signal that what has been happening so far will happen and, above all, that these will not be idle words – he declared.

– It is very important to me that the role of the Ombudsman is not limited to the fact that the Ombudsman expresses regret that the Ombudsman expresses concern, but that it involves, on the one hand, specific interventions in individual cases, and on the other hand, acts of a systemic, general nature – added.

Read also: Bodies in the woods by the border. The Commissioner for Human Rights asks the prosecutor’s office and the Border Guard

Wojciech Brzozowski, Deputy Ombudsman on Machińska’s replacement: What has been happening so far will continue. These will not be idle wordsTVN24

Deputy Ombudsman on a visit to the border with Belarus

The deputy commissioner also said that “the most moving experience” during the stay at the border “was the visit to the hospital in Hajnówka”. He reported that it “consisted of two parts”, and “the first part was a meeting with the management of the hospital”. “I really have a lot of appreciation for the staff at this hospital for what they do and for the heroism of these people,” he said.

– Then there was a short visit to the sick room. Sometimes it happens that once you hear certain things, you won’t “hear” them anymore, said Brzozowski. He mentioned the stories of “people who have experienced violence, who have also experienced earlier – even before crossing the border – humiliation, often also abuse, not only sexual.”

– They talk about their fear, how they were freezing, how they lay waiting for someone to find them, how they were disconnected from the group they were walking with, often how they were disconnected from their family. They talk about it without looking in the eye, often avoiding eye contact, gasping for emotion – he added, addressing the host of the program, Marcin Zaborowski.

“These are things you can’t play, you can’t pretend to make an impression. These are people who have been through hell.

Operation “Sluice”

Migration crisis on the borders of Belarus and Poland, Lithuania and became Latvia triggered in August 2021 by Alyaksandr Lukashenkowho is accused of waging hybrid warfare in this way. This consists in the organized transfer of migrants to the borders of the territory of these three countries. During the 27 years of his rule, Lukashenka has often threatened Europe with weakening border controls.

Read more at tvn24.pl: Crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border

The action of bringing migrants to Belarus from the Middle East or Africa to cause a migration crisis was described on his blog in the summer of 2021 by journalist of the Belarusian opposition channel “Nexta” Tadeusz Giczan.

In it, he explained that the Belarusian services were conducting the “Sluice” operation, invented 10 years ago, in this way. Under the guise of trips to Minsk, promising transfer to the European Union, Lukashenka’s regime brought thousands of migrants to Belarus. Then he transported them to the borders of EU countries, where Belarusian services force them to cross them illegally. This operation is still ongoing.

Main photo source: TVN24

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