MINSK, November 23. /TASS/. Polish forces have once again used riot control weapons to turn back another group of migrants to Belarus, the State Border Committee of the Republic of Belarus reported on its website on Tuesday.
"This is not the first time Poland used riot control weapons against unarmed people. The use of riot control smoke-puff charges, stun grenades, water cannons and tear gas violated international legal norms and constitutes direct aggression against vulnerable groups of refugees," the agency noted.
The committee specified that the riot control weapons were used overnight on November 23 when a group of foreigners, whom Polish federal forces tried to push out, refused to proceed on to Belarus and remained near the Polish fence continuing to ask for asylum in Poland. "In order to disperse the refugees, Polish servicemen used smoke-puff charges that they were tossing across the border on Belarusian territory and tear gas," the committee said. Minsk thinks that such actions are directed at "provoking a retaliatory, hostile reaction from the refugees and creating conditions for another provocation on the border."
The migrant crisis on the Belarusian border with Latvia, Lithuania and Poland where Middle Eastern migrants have been flocking to since the beginning of the year, quickly unraveled on November 8. Several thousand refugees approached the Polish border from Belarus and refused to leave the area, breaking down a barbed wire fence and attempting to cross into Poland. On November 16, after clashes with Polish federal officers who used tear gas and stun grenades, the migrants left the border area and were accommodated at the Bruzgi transport and logistics center.
EU countries have accused Minsk of intentionally escalating the crisis and have called for sanctions. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko stated that Western countries themselves were to blame for this quagmire since these people were fleeing war in their homelands due to the West’s belligerent policies that have wreaked havoc in that part of the world.