Polish intelligence agencies have discovered camps where thousands of Ukrainian children have allegedly been held and Ukrainian adults tortured by Russian military forces.
On Wednesday, Poland's Special Services Minister Stanislaw Zaryn said that more than 1.5 million Ukrainians, including "thousands of children" were being detained in several locations in occupied areas of Ukraine.
Posting satellite imagery and coordinates of the "locations where there are Russian torture chambers used against Ukrainians," Zaryn said, "The Kremlin has organized a network of prisons and filter camps in which it is holding detained Ukrainians."
While Russia subjects its prisoners to a verification process, looking for people with combat experience and Ukrainian officials, the minister said the attitudes of the detained toward Russia are also studied.
"Those who do not raise any objections from the invaders are generally deported to Russia," Zaryn said. "Some of these people are forcibly conscripted into the Russian army and then sent to the front.
"People who raise doubts are brutally repressed," he continued. "They are tortured, they are forced to testify or make statements against Ukraine, or they are brought to court as part of propaganda, show political trials."
The camps have reportedly been set up in the former headquarters of Ukrainian police and the State Migration Service of Ukraine, with photos revealing locations at Donetsk, Starobesheve, Dokuchayevsk, Manhush and Novoazovsk.
"In regions where the Russians have not managed to adapt buildings taken over as a result of aggression, filtration sites are organized in the form of towns and tent camps," Zaryn said.
Human Rights Watch released a report last week that supported the minister's claims that thousands of Ukrainians are being unlawfully held and tortured by Russia.
The organization said it has interviewed Ukrainian citizens and prisoners of war held by Russian troops in the occupied southern regions of the country and heard detailed accounts of the torture they experienced.
"Russian forces have turned occupied areas of southern Ukraine into an abyss of fear and wild lawlessness," senior researcher Yulia Gorbunova said. "Torture, inhumane treatment, as well as arbitrary detention and unlawful confinement of civilians, are among the war crimes we have documented."
Human Rights Watch spoke with 71 people from Kherson, Melitopol, Berdyansk, Skadovsk and 10 other cities and towns in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, the organization said.
Those interviewed described 42 cases in which Russian forces either forcibly caused civilians to disappear or otherwise held them arbitrarily, and many instances in which they were beaten, tortured and hospitalized with severe injuries.
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