Lukashists are creating unbearable conditions for migrants to throw them into storming the Polish border.
"Belarus is taking advantage of the fact that we are at the limit of our strength," say the Kurds on the Polish-Belarusian border, as quoted by Le Monde (translated by TVP).
The French newspaper describes the migrants as "cannon fodder". Lukashenka uses it to attack the West for the sanctions imposed on him for brutal reprisals after the rigged presidential election.
"Cannon fodder of the Lukashenka regime, thousands exiled, often Iraqi Kurds lured by mafia nets, are being taken to the Polish border after suffering humiliation and abuse," Le Monde wrote on Thursday.
"Early on Wednesday, November 17, several thousand more migrants stuck at the gates of the European Union. They had been forced out by the Belarusian troops on the border with Poland the day before. The vast majority of Iraqi Kurds fleeing a bad future in their country have been lured into this hellish trap after Minsk organised migration flows from the Middle East to Europe via Poland and Lithuania," the magazine stresses.
"Belarus exploits the fact that we are on the edge"
"We have been captured like cattle," Nishan, 26, who came to Belarus as part of a group of 12 people, including children, from Iraqi Kurdistan, told the newspaper's reporter by telephone.
"Early this month, we were scattered in small groups in the forest. We were alone and didn't know where to go. Then the Belarusian police or the military came to divide us into smaller groups," explains Nishan. "They punched me in the chest because I didn't want to follow their orders. We asked a group of soldiers for water," the Kurd says.
"On the night of November 15, we noticed more groups moving in an unknown direction," says 29-year-old Musa. After a few hours, he and his comrades were forced into a kind of "buffer zone" between Poland and Belarus, close to the border crossing, Le Monde writes.
"Hours passed by. We felt cold and were hungry," says the young Kurd. "We thought the Poles might open (the border), but nothing happened. We were angry, demanding food from the Poles. We couldn't stand it anymore. The Belarusians turned us into hungry rats, ready to do anything to get out of their trap," says the migrant.
"The Belarusian strategy is to make us do what they want. For example, they tell us that if we want to go back for supplies, we should go and storm the border," says Nishan.
"For three days, the Belarusians cut the Polish barbed wire with pliers and tools. They forced us to use them," says Nishan. "Since most of us refused to attack the Poles, the Belarusians formed small groups of 20 men to make us force the barbed wire. Those who did not comply with this (order) were threatened," the Kurds say.
"People are afraid this is a step towards repatriation to Iraq."
Nishan says he and a group of 100 people were taken at dawn on Wednesday by bus under the supervision of the Belarusian military to a hotel in Porechye in Belarus, less than 7 kilometres from the Lithuanian border. Others were offered accommodation with a limited number of beds in a logistics centre.
"Despite the cold, many are reluctant to go there. People are afraid it is a step towards repatriation to Iraq; the majority does not want that," the newspaper quoted Baghaddin.
"Don't trust the smugglers who made us believe in Kurdistan that everything would be easy. They deceived us, sold us out," says Sosiyar, 27, the mother of a four-month-old baby. The woman describes Kurdish Facebook pages that direct to travel agencies and smugglers urging them to buy "packages to travel to Europe via Minsk".