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Manufactured Cruelties: Belarus, Poland and the Refugee Crisis

Refugee crises are often manufactured by governments. They can be done at the source: war, famine, rapacious institutions. They can also be manufactured by the refusal of governments to accept those seeking asylum, sanctuary and refuge.

The latter is very much in evidence in Europe: governments of the European Union are staring down desperate humans keen to travel into the EU; Belarus, engaging in its own form of mega-trafficking, has become a conduit for the movement of asylum seekers and migrants fleeing from Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan.

Despite being granted Belarussian visas at considerable cost, many being initially housed in government hotels, their stay is only intended as temporary. After brief respite, they are pushed towards the country’s border with Poland, Latvia and Lithuania. How they get there is not entirely clear. Some migrants are escorted by uniformed men; others pay additional fees to be transported. It has also been reported that Belarusian security forces have furnished instructions and tools – axes and wire cutters – to aid the crossing of the border. Attempts by Belarussian personnel to destroy border fences near Czeremcha, and disorientate Polish soldiers with stroboscopes and lasers, have also been noted.

Once at the border, the migrants are not allowed to approach any checkpoints to seek asylum. Nor are they allowed to return to Minsk, threatened by Belarusian border guards who insist on keeping them there.

Trapped in purgatorial fashion along the border, the migrants find themselves sleeping in rude conditions and left at the mercy of the elements. There have inadequate supplies, lack warm clothing and are starving. One estimate has put the death toll at nine.

All political sides are making hay from this suffering. Lukashenko can be accused of being an opportunistic trafficker of desperate folk and keen on jailing opponents in a desperate bit to stay in power, but Poland’s Law and Justice Party has happily stirred xenophobic hysteria. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and President Adrzej Duda are part of an administration that does not shy away from demonising arrivals they associate with terrorists with kinky characteristics. Doing so supplies an appropriate distraction from accusations of corruption, galloping inflation and a troubling rise in COVID-19 numbers.

In September, the Minister of the Interior, Mariusz Kamiński, and the National Defence Minister, Mariusz Błaszczak, appeared at a press conference to show a picture of a man copulating with a cow. The content had been allegedly found on a phone belonging to an Afghan migrant lurking in the woods. Spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior, Stanisław Żaryn, suggested that this was an act “associated with sexual disorders,” signalling a government campaign to link refugees with zoophilia and paedophilia.

In a gesture of such refined generosity, TVP Info, the main propaganda outlet of the ruling party, ran a video with a suitably prurient title: “He raped a cow and wanted to enter Poland?” There were two problems with the footage: the material, recorded on a VHS videotape, was drawn from bestiality porn from the 1970s; and the animal in question was a mare, not a cow.

Earlier this month, Duda signed a bill into law to construct what was described as “a high-tech barrier on the border with Belarus to guard against an influx of irregular migrants.” The barrier, valued at some €350 million, was “needed due to increased migratory pressure from Belarus.” The right to asylum had all but entirely vanished.

Liz Throssell, spokesperson from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), is adamant that, “The human rights of migrants and refugees have to come first.” Unfortunately, she was far from informative on what solutions might be pursued on the Belarus-EU border. “It is really important they must be respected under international human rights refugee law, but as for the political dimension to this, I would leave that to others to address”.

Along the Belarus-Polish border, refugees and migrants have been instrumentalised, their rights assiduously ignored. Lukashenko has been accused of using a form of “hybrid” warfare by throwing migrants at the border like willing assailants of rabid intent. The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, makes the point. “It is a hybrid attack, a brutal attack, a violent attack and a shameful attack.” Such nasty terminology has turned those wishing to make their way to the EU into foot soldiers in a political cause they wish to play no part in. Wedged in between this vicious play of power, these unfortunates trapped on the border find themselves divested of their humanity, their desires, their wishes.

The EU is also playing its own vile game, falling back upon frontier states who have held themselves up to be saviours of European civilisation. “It is important that Lukashenko understands that [the regime’s] behaviour comes with a price,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned after talks with US President Joe Biden. Sanctions are being considered against the airlines that have been accused of facilitating human trafficking.

There is one final perversion in all this. In essentially condemning human trafficking, the EU and its counterparts are condemning the right to asylum, which such trafficking aids. With that sentiment, von der Leyen would regard Oskar Schindler and his more recent equivalent, Iraq’s Ali Al Jenabi, as traffickers worthy of punishment.

 

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20 comments

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  1. Geoff Andrews

    Thank the gods that, unlike these fiends, we treat our asylum seekers with dignity & compassion; once again establishing ourselves in the top tier of the morality of international affairs.
    It’s the Australian Way.

  2. Uta Hannemann

    Geoff Andrews, where do you get that idea from?

    Of course, once they are recognized, we do treat them well, but how many are recognized?

  3. Phil Pryor

    Geoff’s sarcasm is “sweet” in actually sending up this shitskulled government’s actions and attitudes, led by a Super Shitskull and staffed by little emasculated and retarded shitskullettes. Well off whiteys (most of us) are often unrestful, looking out a poor behaviour while reserving a ration to preserve the status quo, for, nobody want to go backwards while others advance…Could B Joyce and Peter Duckwit-Futton go there as observers, living amongst the refugees for a month, just as they live?? No?? The Big Hose Vibrater likes to get to Hawaii as refuge from duty…lazy lout. It is a terrible situation with little coming to relieve it in Europe.

  4. Kaye Lee

    Geoff,

    Human rights isn’t our best thing, just ask the traditional custodians of the land. Or the rainbow community who the government is currently seeking to again legislate as being somehow abhorrent. Or the disabled and the aged whose abuse has been endemic.

    We invest a hell of a lot of money to show how much we care about torturing asylum seekers who come by boat. Those who come by plane, not so much.

  5. New England Cocky

    Uhm ….. when has Australia been a world leader in compassion for refugees fleeing persecution in pother countries? Certainly NOT since Scummo and disgustingly, Labor before him, implemented the current policies of detaining legal refugees without any legal rights or ability to legally challenge government decisions.

  6. Michael Taylor

    My mother’s family were illegal (yes, illegal) refugees. Two of her brothers fought for Australia in WW2. I was the pallbearer at the funeral of one of them, he was given a proper military burial.

    Geez those boat people are useless. They do nothing for this country.

  7. Michael Taylor

    In case you’re wondering why they were illegal refugees, under the White Australia Policy they could not enter Australia so they got in with forged Greek passports.

    It’s a long story, but an inspirational one.

  8. Fred

    Michael, … boat people? What sort of people flee their home country in fear of their lives. Then while scratching an existence to stay alive in a camp or worse “on the streets” they take a cruise with a people smuggler in a boat that is typically less than seaworthy. In the process risking their lives and the probability of being “turned around” into international waters and then dying of exposure, hunger, thirst, illness or drowning. If they do make it to Australia, we will provide them an outstanding welcome of relocating them to somewhere where even the locals would consider it to be a living hell and keeping them there for a significant portion to their lives – if they don’t end it themselves. We make sure they don’t have anything worthwhile to do while incarcerated and no clear vision of what will happen to them. No matter the mental and physical cruelty we subject them to, which is our message to the world of “don’t come here”, they still do. Mind you what have they got to complain about – we could treat them worse by daily waterboarding.

    Clearly they are crazy economic tourists looking for a place to freeload.

    If they were the “right kind” of people they would have money to buy entry or seek asylum as an elite sports person or by being an “Au-pair”.

  9. GL

    Michael,

    You forget yourself, they aren’t illegal immigrants/refugees anymore they are irregular maritime arrivals…oops, I meant “illegal” and not “irregular.” I forgot they wanted a more stigmatising term to place on these people.

  10. Michael Taylor

    Clearly they are crazy economic tourists looking for a place to freeload.

    Fred, I really, really hope you weren’t referring to my family. If so, I would expect an apology. Your knowledge of my family’s circumstances amounts to zero.

    And yes, they did come by boat. Or should I say “ship”? A ship on which a fare was paid.

  11. Carol Taylor

    Michael, … boat people? What sort of people flee their home country in fear of their lives.

    Maybe someone such as Lebanese Catholics fleeing the Turks WW1.

    As far as “crazy economic tourists”..what about your own ancestors Fred? For the vast majority of us, with the exception of those with First Nations’ blood, or those with convict ancestors, Australians in the majority are descendants of ‘economic refugees’. Whether it was the Irish Potato Famine, the famines in Germany or acute poverty in Gloucestershire or Yorkshire, our ancestors came here seeking opportunities unavailable to them in their own countries. One of my own ancestors arrived into South Australia as a Indentured Servant bonded for 5 years in exchange for his passage to Australia. A shame that so few Australians know so little about their own personal family histories that they condemn people today for making the exact same choices as their own ancestors did.

  12. Michael Taylor

    What sort of people flee their home country in fear of their lives.

    People like my family. It was flee or be killed, so they set off on a 200 mile walk across the desert to Port Said, where my grandfather had relatives.

    Along the way they were attacked by Turkish bandits, who killed my great-grandmother and stole everyone else’s shoes. So barefooted they continued across the desert. To her dying day, my mother never forgave the Turks.

    Once in Port Said my grandfather got the forged passport and paid his fare to Australia, where he hoped to find work and pay the fare for his family to join him. It took him 12 years to save enough money.

  13. Fred

    Michael, … I wasn’t having a go at you or your family – my tongue was firmly planted when responding to the open “Geez those boat people are useless. They do nothing for this country.”

    Most “boat people” have more “get up and go” and prepared to put it all on the line than the whole LNP combined and therefore make worthy citizen stock.

    It is most distressing to see some of the European states taking a leaf out of our “border protection” book.

    Now if we could just put the LNP in one of the confiscated boats and send them in the reverse direction…

  14. GL

    “Now if we could just put the LNP in one of the confiscated boats and send them in the reverse direction…” In a large wooden boat with a giant esky of food that comprises of George, Craig, and Clive. That will keep them fed for months. Also take all their electronic gear from them and leave a 16th Century Sea map for guidance on board.

  15. Michael Taylor

    Fred, my apologies for misunderstanding your comment. I ask for your forgiveness.

  16. Fred

    Carol, … I’m a boat person and came out at age 4 to also wind up in South Australia. Parents could hardly pay the fare – came here with next to f… all. Lived in various desperate accommodation as a child, but through parents bloody hard work finally got to live in our own home. Although, TV was always watched at the neighbors and sometimes dinner was a bit “light-on”. Our parents work ethic rubbed off onto us – none of us have ever been on welfare. I cannot understand why, as a nation, we are so cruel to boat people.

  17. GL

    Fred,

    They are “Other” and are to be feared because they ain’t true blue (that phrase makes me sick) ‘strayans.

  18. Fred

    GL, Just give them a chance – they have risked life and limb to get here. That’s the Australian way – not the crap out of the PM that continues from when he was the minister responsible. (Or should that be the irresponsible minister?)

  19. GL

    I didn’t mean the refugees, whether they are economic or otherwise they deserve to live here. I meant, almost always, the right wing nut jobs who use being a true ‘strayan as a cowards weapon. They are the ones I detest.

  20. Andrew J. Smith

    Often what’s forgotten is how central ‘othering’ has become in politics of the nativist Christian right, through a eugenics based prism of refugees, immigrants, population growth, border security, religion, education and identity, to create anxiety, fear, paranoia to spook monocultural voters and create anger.

    Interesting, probably coincidental, but how many regimes have learnt from others to do the same, and even encourage ‘caravans’ and migration of Syrians etc. to apply pressure on the EU’s borders/walls and present imagery that inspired Steve Bannon, his muse John Tanton and Renaud Camus?

    This was the ‘great replacement’ based upon Jean Raspail’s ‘Camp of the Saints’ about invading immigrants, interviewed by an Australian academic for Tanton’s journal The Social Contract Press a generation ago; same inspired Trump’s team to ‘build the wall’.

    The EU had apparently requested state influenced airlines i.e. Turkish Airlines, Aeroflot and FlyDubai to stop accepting these passengers heading to Minsk (hardly a preferred or normal destination); backgrounded by European states or players able to use as political or electoral agitprop against the EU e.g. Poland, Czechia, UK, Hungary, Turkey, Italy etc.

    Of course the Soros conspiracy also raises its head i.e. Soros, his Open Society Institute etc. are blamed for encouraging migration for the ‘great replacement’ to supersede white Christian nationalists of the right…..

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