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In a Tweet posted on Sunday (September 19), the Polish Border Guard said it had found the bodies of three people near the border with Belarus. One of the corpses, discovered in the village of Dworczysko where a state of emergency has been declared, was identified as belonging to an Iraqi man who probably died of hypothermia.

Later that day, Belarusian border authorities issued a separate statement informing the public about another tragic finding.

The notice mentioned a corpse of a "non-Slavic looking woman" found in the village of Lesnoye. Belarusian authorities claimed that "there were clear traces of the corpse being dragged across the Polish border into Belarus". "Next to the body were three children aged between 7 and 15, as well as a man and an elderly woman. They said they were held at gunpoint and forced to cross the border into Belarus on foot"– the statement claimed.

In its press release published after 10:00 p.m. on Sunday, the Belarusian Telegraph Agency (BelTA), cited the words of the deceased woman's husband, an Iraqi citizen named Haydar Kaman Abdul Hussein.

The man said his wife was 39 years old. They fled Iraq with their children in search of a better place to live. They wanted to reach Germany. The man was quoted saying that they have "managed to reach the nearest Polish village". The whole family was tired, they tried to warm themselves up by the bonfire, dry their clothes and shoes.

According to the report published by BelTA - the man asked a Polish citizen for water, but he reported the migrants to the border guards. Once they arrived, the Polish border guards did not allow them to put on their shoes and clothes, they began to rush them barefoot to the Belarusian border. "My wife felt bad. She was very tired, she was walking very slowly. And one of the Polish soldiers put on his gloves. He had metal plates on them. And he pushed her hard. She fell down" – the Iraqi man allegedly said.

We decided to include the information as reported by Lukashenko’s propaganda apparatus because the state of emergency introduced by the Polish government along the entire length of the Polish-Belarusian border bans Polish journalists from reporting on key events in the region.

Prime Minister Morawiecki: "A possible provocation"

Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki commented on the tragic events in a Facebook post:

- The bodies of three people who were trying to illegally cross into Poland from Belarus were found in the border region and another body of a woman was found on Belarus’ side. I just spoke to the Commander-in-Chief of our Border Guard Gen. Tomasz Praga and the Minister of Internal Affairs Mariusz Kamiński. Appropriate services and prosecutors are working on the ground, investigating the circumstances of the tragic event.

The Prime Minister emphasized that "it is necessary to investigate the possible connection of these dramatic events with the previous Belarusian provocations taking place on our eastern border. I will take part in a briefing with representatives of the services in the morning. We will keep you informed".

MP Sterczewski: "Does someone really have to die for the Polish state to act?"

Last month, "Wyborcza" wrote about the dramatic situation of a group of Afghan refugees stranded in a camp in Usnarz Górny (a village on the Polish-Belarusian border). The migrants were trying to enter Poland and apply for asylum but were pushed back by the Polish border guards.

Even though some of the refugees were suffering health problems, neither humanitarian aid organizations nor medical staff was allowed into the camp.

Franciszek Sterczewski, one of the opposition MPs who were on site, described the situation of the stranded refugees as "dramatic". - Does someone really have to die of hunger and exhaustion for the Polish state to act? What needs to happen for our government to start respecting international treaties under the Geneva Convention that give these people the right to seek asylum if they are fleeing war. These people deserve help and support- Sterczewski said back in August.

On September 2, the Polish government imposed a state of emergency in 183 local areas located near the border with Belarus. In practice, it means restrictions on many civil rights and freedoms, including those of the media, which have been banned from reporting on the situation at the border.

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Every day, 400 journalists at Gazeta Wyborcza write verified, fact-checked stories about Polish politics and society, keeping a critical eye on the ruling camp’s persistent assault on democratic values and the rule of law; the growing cultural tension between religious fundamentalism and human rights; and the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic. Our journalists are on the front lines in 25 Polish cities, reporting from the streets, hospitals, and courtrooms about issues that move public opinion.

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