Thirteen activists were detained on Sunday in Poland for trying to destroy part of a barbed-wire barrier that Polish authorities have erected along the border with Belarus to stop migrants from crossing in.
The activists said it was an act of protest against Polish authorities for what they believe is the “inhuman treatment" of migrants seeking to enter the European Union nation.
Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski, who is responsible for police and security, said what the protesters did was “absolutely unacceptable” and that those detained “will bear all the legal consequences of their actions.”
Those detained include 12 Poles and one Dutch citizen, according to Polish media reports.
Poland — like Lithuania — has seen a surge of migrants arriving 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” to create instability in the 27-nation EU. The borders that Lithuania and Poland have with Belarus form part of the EU's eastern border.
In reaction, Poland has begun building a barbed wire fence along the border.
But local attention has focused heavily on 32 people — described by a refugee group as Afghans — who have been stuck in a no man's land along the border near the Polish village of Usnarz Górny for weeks. Poland's government says they are on Belarusian soil and will not let them walk the short distance into Poland to apply for asylum. It argues that Belarus is responsible for them.
In a statement, the activists who tried to cut through the barbed wire barrier said: “We do not agree to humiliation, inhumane treatment and refusal to provide medical assistance to refugees, and we do not agree to the use of illegal push-back procedures.”