Iranian migrant: Belarusian border guards treat us like animals
Migrants at the border / Balkan Insight, Jaap Arriens
Belarusian security officers grab and break migrants' phones, a Euroradio interlocutor claims.
A citizen of Iran heading to Europe made contact with Euroradio. He is afraid to disclose his current location and is asking for advice: where should he turn for help, for the situation he’s in is genuinely dreadful.
“The border patrol doesn’t let those stuck between the two borders go back to Belarus. The guards are brutally beating us and jeering at us as if we were animals,” the young man says (the editorial team has his name and contact information).
The migrants who are filming the proceedings get their phones taken away and smashed. It is not the only problem, though. “No organization is helping us survive the cold weather, absolutely none,” complains the migrant.
There is a constant stream of messages in the chats where migrants communicate that discourage people from going to Belarus as it is an “unsafe and cold place.” Recently, multiple messages in one of these chats warned people to be cautious while on the Belarusian side of the border. The notes also relayed the cases when people had to “break with the pack” because of the enforcers.
Mohamad Ghazizade, chief of the Iran migrant help organization, confirmed the information during the conversation with Euroradio. Polish and Lithuanian border guards also speak of the Belarusian enforcers’ violence towards the migrants. Then again, The Belarusian State Border Committee keeps pace with the foreign colleagues and accuses both Polish and Lithuanian border guards of the same thing.
Tehran is deeply concerned
Official Tehran has already taken up the issue of the Iranian citizens in Belarus. Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran, discussed the situation with his Belarusian counterpart Uladzimir Makei. Interestingly, the Iranian media made reports about the meeting, but the Belarusian ones stayed quiet. After that, Seyed Kazem Sajjadi, the deputy Iranian foreign minister, happened to be in Minsk. He met with the Standing Commission on International Affairs Chairperson, Andrei Savinykh, and made a rather biting statement, considering what the Belarusian-Iranian relationship looks like right now.
"We expect the Belarusian government and the higher-ups to act responsibly and take care of the Iranians who are stuck on the borders with Poland and Lithuania in the cold. We hope these people would get humanitarian aid, including blankets and warm meals, as well as help in getting back home if they choose to."