German agents stopped the men after a search in the area around the towns of Gubin and Nysse Dam, a strip of about 50 kilometers along the Polish border. The police found, among other things, pepper spray, batons, a spear, and a machete. The men had moved into the area at night from Saturday to Sunday, after the far-right organization Der Dritte Weg called on its supporters to stop illegal immigrants into their own hands.
The largest group, consisting of thirty men, was stopped before midnight in a village on the border. During the night, German police elsewhere in the region picked up small groups of suspected right-wing extremists from the streets. Most of the men came from the region, the rest came from other German states. They were barred from the area around Guben, a place of about 16 thousand inhabitants. Anyone who carries weapons will be prosecuted.
About 25 people staged a vigil against racism in downtown Gubin on Saturday evening. “We do not want to let the region fall into the hands of neo-Nazis,” the organization said. “We want to make it clear that asylum is and will remain a human right.” The mayor of the city called on the people not to take the law into their own hands.
Tensions have been rising in the border region for weeks, due to an increase in the number of migrants trying to reach Germany via Poland. In October alone, German police arrested more than 1,800 refugees in the area.
The increase is a direct result of the policies of the Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, who, out of anger at the European Union, invited refugees to enter the European Union through his country. Migrants from countries such as Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan can board a plane to Minsk without the need for a visa, and from there travel unimpeded overland to the Polish border. Many of them hope to reach Germany via Poland.
Lukashenko began this policy in May of this year, after the European Union imposed severe sanctions on Belarus. These sanctions came in response to the violent crackdown by Lukashenko’s security forces of protests against his regime, following an alleged alleged election. Lukashenko has been called the last dictator of Europe.
Poland has now begun to build a fence on the border with Belarus. In an interview with the Boulevard newspaper, picture German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said such protection of the EU’s external borders was “legitimate”. Germany itself sent an additional 800 police officers to the border area with Poland. The two countries jointly patrol there.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday that the European Union would not fund walls or metal fences. “We see the behavior of the Belarusian government as a mixed attack, but the people it is using are victims who need help.”
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