KNK chair Ahmet Karamus speaks about situation on Polish-Belarusian border

KNK chair Ahmet Karamus spoke about the situation on the Polish-Belarusian border and warned of the acutely life-threatening situation faced by refugees.

A delegation from the Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) has traveled to the border area between Poland and Belarus. In this ANF interview, co-chair Ahmet Karamus spoke about the situation at the border and the reasons many Kurds have to flee. He appealed to the people in South Kurdistan: “We understand your reasons, but the enemy is using this situation to their advantage. They want to change the demographic structure in Kurdistan."

What situation have you found on the Polish-Belarusian border?

Unfortunately, we did not have the opportunity to meet and talk to refugees ourselves. A buffer zone 150 kilometres long and ten kilometres wide has been created on the Polish border. It is like a red zone. Around 15,000 soldiers and police officers are deployed there. There are physical barriers on the border like razor wires. There is no way for anyone, neither for the refugees nor for those who want to contact them, to get through. Small organizations sporadically provide assistance in different ways, but that assistance does not even cover five percent of the need.

How many refugees are being held in the "buffer zone" you are talking about? Did you have the opportunity to get in touch with people from South Kurdistan? What are their demands?

According to the information we have received, their number ranges from 5,000 to 6,000. We are talking about 3,000 to 4,000 Kurds: from Başûrê Kurdistanê [South Kurdistan]. The majority are young people, there are children and women. The reasons they migrated are obvious. There are political and economic causes. It's about unemployment and a lack of prospects. They are not happy with the situation in Başûrê Kurdistanê and keep saying that they cannot live there. The people do not see a future in Başûrê Kurdistanê. They go away putting themselves in danger.

Have you had discussions with the military and police officers who are besieging the border?

Of course, we tried to speak to the security forces at the border. They kept telling us: ‘It is the decision of the government, the state. We will in no way allow you to go to the border and talk to the people there.’ The Polish government has already banned the delivery of relief supplies. We continue our attempts to meet with government-related institutions. KNK-Europe has also tried to meet with those responsible in the European Parliament and the Commissioner for Refugee Affairs.

We keep receiving reports of deaths from hunger and cold. What is the current situation and what are you doing in this regard?

Our delegation is in Warsaw. We are currently meeting with human rights organizations and institutions. We would like to meet some Polish MPs and inform them about the situation of the refugees. We have started initiatives through Heyva Sor a Kurdistanê and other channels so that help can reach those seeking protection. So far we know of twelve dead. The last thing we heard was that a pregnant woman got very ill because of cold and hunger. Aid organizations managed to get her to a hospital in Poland after a huge pressure. She lost her child and she is in a coma. Her life is in danger. That is the current situation.

Who is responsible for this situation?

As everyone knows, the migrants come via Turkey and Baghdad. Belarus and Turkey play the largest role in this. Maybe they have a common interest, or each has their own interests. The Belarusian head of state wants to put pressure on the European Union. Erdoğan and the Turkish state also want to put pressure on the EU and depopulate Kurdistan in this way. The demographic structure has already changed in Afrin, Serêkaniyê and Girê Spî. The same concept and method is used in South Kurdistan. They want to settle mercenary groups and their families there under the control of the Turkish state, such as ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and others.

The government in Başûrê Kurdistan accuses everyone else, even the refugees. How do you see it?

We hear the rhetoric and explanations of some government officials in Basûrê Kurdistan. They blame the refugees. It's very sad. We do not accept this in any way. We have to approach this issue together and rescue refugees from this danger. We see no use in the statements made by the government representatives of Basûrê Kurdistan. There is no truth in that. Those who force the people of Başûrê Kurdistan to flee do not take the blame on themselves. This is the fault of the Basûrê Kurdistan authorities; it is a shame. They are actually responsible for their citizens being forced to flee.

Do you have any appeals regarding displacement and migration?

We hope that nobody was forced to leave their home, their village, their country. As KNK we call on the Kurdish young people to lead their society into the future. Do not leave your country. Create your future with your own hands by fighting and working on your land. The people in Kurdistan should also know that their lives are in great danger. We have seen the plight of the refugees first hand. The situation is chaotic and dangerous. Do not turn yourselves into a tool in the hands of the enemy. We understand your reasons, but the enemy is taking advantage of this situation. The enemy wants to change the demographic structure of Kurdistan.