Bohoniki, Poland –
His name was Ahmad al-Hasan and he was 19. He wanted to continue his education, which he began in a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan. But his dreams will never come true.
On October 19, his body was found in the Bug river in eastern Poland, close to the Belarus border.
According to his companion who survived, al-Hasan was pushed to enter the water by a Belarusian guard. He could not swim.
On Monday evening, he was laid to rest in a grave at a Muslim cemetery in Bohoniki, a few kilometres away from the Belarus border, as his family members in Jordan and Turkey watched the ceremony via video-link.
Tatars have lived in the Polish-Belarus borderland for centuries.
For them, people looking for shelter at the Polish-Belarus border are not a threat. They are people, brothers in faith, whose lives are being lost.
“We should give them water and food. They are not a threat. They are afraid of us, they don’t know how people will act when they see them. I feel so sorry for them, for the children, the little children. People are warm at home and these people are outside, in one piece of clothing, it’s incredible how they survive,” said Ali, a Muslim Tatar.
“I feel bad. Once, [Jarosław] Kaczynski (leader of the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party) said that Poland is for Poles and Catholics. It breaks my heart. There are also Orthodox Christians here and Muslims, Tatars, so how can someone say that?”