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Female Iran asylum seeker shot in the eye by Poland border guards

June 19, 2024 at 1:52 pm

Border guards on the Polish side continue to wait under intense security, as the area on the Belarusian side is being organised and cleared, at the Poland-Belarus border, on November 21, 2021 in Belarus [Sefa Karacan – Anadolu Agency]

A 35-year-old Iranian woman seeking asylum claims she was shot in the eye by uniformed Polish personnel near the border fence with Belarus this week. Fleeing religious persecution in Iran, she was admitted to a Polish hospital early Monday morning. Grupa Granica, a Polish aid organisation and human rights monitoring group, is providing her support.

The woman had spent several weeks in the inhospitable forest near the border, searching for food after days without eating. She reports being fired upon without warning by two uniformed Polish personnel.

According to her account, the guards donned balaclavas before approaching and taking her to hospital. She remains hospitalised, suffering severe mental and physical distress.

Observers have documented beatings, threats, dog attacks, and theft of money, documents, and phones. Last autumn, Polish soldiers shot a Syrian man in the back, and an illegal pushback was recently caught on video for the first time.

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Last week, the Polish government established a radical new 2km buffer zone around the border, imposing new restrictions on journalists and aid workers. This move followed the fatal stabbing of a Polish border guard, allegedly by someone attempting to cross, which rights campaigners argue is further evidence that militarising the border is increasing violence.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk recently announced a multibillion-euro militarised fortification system along the Polish-Belarusian border. Bartek Rumienczyk, from Grupa Granica, stated:

“The alleged shooting of a woman in distress by Polish forces is a further sign of the breakdown of both the rule of law and human decency at the border. It is a direct result of authoritarian measures introduced under the previous conservative government and maintained by the current one, despite its promises of change.”

He added, “The government claims these measures are a response to the actions of Russia and Belarus – but it is people seeking safety, not Putin or Lukashenko, who are the victims. We cannot win against our adversaries by abandoning the values that are supposed to distinguish us from them.”

“Instead, Poland and the EU must ensure that everyone seeking safety has access to humane treatment in line with the law.”

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