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Visual Report: “Zone of Hidden Violence”. 3D-Reconstruction documenting violations of human rights and pushbacks in the Polish-Belarusian border area

August 2022 marks 12 months of the humanitarian crisis at the Polish-Belarusian border. Responding to the need to document testimonies of torture, violations of human rights, and violence, the Border Emergency Collective has entered a collaboration with the Helsinki Foundation For Human Rights, the Polish Hospitality Foundation, and the NOMADA Association, to develop a visual report documenting the journey of Mariam and Hamdi from Syria, as well as the violations of human rights they experienced, in the difficult conditions of the Polish-Belarusian border area.

Human memory has a spatial dimension which proves helpful in reconstructing past events. As memories take a more tangible form, they can yield a source of information and evidence. In their research, the Border Emergency Collective have made use of techniques such as spatial reconstruction, mapping, and situated testimony, to help create a thorough, detailed reconstruction of events which took place in November 2021 at Poland’s eastern border – in a 3D form.

This material was developed to support advocacy and strategic litigation of cases of human rights violations in the Polish-Belarusian border area.

„Zone of Hidden Violence” is a video work reconstructing the experience of pushbacks, forced crossings, forcing people to enter rivers, restrictions of freedom, and violence; the events recalled by the narrators were framed in time and space. The filmed narrative also bears witness to the strength and determination of the migrants who have taken the difficult decision to flee in order to save their lives, dignity, and freedom, against all obstacles.

The stories of Mariam and Hamdi are only two examples of pushbacks and forced crossing illustrating a broader dynamic of violence, brutality, and instrumental treatment inflicted on those migrating by officers of both states.

The visual report was developed and produced thanks to the support of Biennale Warszawa.

Partners: Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, the Polish Hospitality Foundation, NOMADA Association for Multicultural Society Integration, Grupa Granica

[1] Situated testimony is a cognitive interviewing method involving the recreation of the witnesses’ memories using spatial and visual tools so as to reconstruct events and verify other testimonies and evidence.


The Border Emergency Collective is a research team specializing in bringing together activist practices and theory with input from publicly available information sources (open-source intelligence, OSINT), and experience in architecture and film. The group was formed in response to the ongoing humanitarian crisis at the Polish-Belarusian border and the escalating violence on the part of officers of both states against people on the move.



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