“We couldn’t talk. When one of us said “camp” they slapped him”

  • Date and time: April 13, 2021 00:00
  • Location: Matochina/Hatipköy
  • Coordinates: 41.8498729, 26.5406626
  • Pushback from: Bulgaria
  • Pushback to: Turkey
  • Demographics: 9 person(s), age: 16-40 , from: Syria
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), dog attacks, theft of personal belongings, reckless driving
  • Police involved: 2 wearing black uniforms, 1 wearing sage green uniform with a dog ; 3 wearing sage green uniforms, driving a a green Nissan pick-up
  • Taken to a police station?: no
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention:
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: No
  • Reported by: josoor

Original Report

The respondent is a 33 year old man, from Syria, recounted a pushback that happened on the 13th April, from Bulgaria to Turkey. 

He was travelling in a group of 9 Syrian men, including himself. The younger man of the group was 16 years old and the older was 40 years old. On the 13st of April, a bit earlier than 9 AM, they crossed the Bulgaria – Turkish border somewhere in the forest near Hamzabeyli through a fence and crossed the river.

They were walking for only 10 min in Bulgaria, in a forest, when they were apprehended by two officers wearing black uniforms and one officer wearing a sage green uniform. This latter was holding a dog, recounted the respondent. “I couldn’t read what was written on his bag but my friend told me it means “police” in Bulgarian”. 

Then the officers beat all the people of the group with sticks/tree branches.

“And they gathered all of us like sheep and let the dog come on us. The dog was biting our shoes, our pants and our bags, while the officers were watching us, they enjoyed what was happening”. 

This lasted for about 30 minutes. After which the officers forced them to take their clothes off and took their belongings.

“We were only wearing our underwear. They only gave us back our pants and our shirts. They kept our shoes and all our supplies, phones, and money. They took 150 Turkish liras from me”.

Then, the officers called two other officers, wearing sage green uniforms, who came in a green Nissan pick-up, and loaded the whole group in the back of the car. “The trunk was about one meter long; we were crowded with each other. And the driver was reckless and fast”, said the respondent. 

The respondent said that he and his group wanted to go to a camp to ask for asylum but  they couldn’t express the will to ask asylum to the officers. “We couldn’t talk. One of us said “camp” and they slapped him”, he explained. The officer didn’t take the fingerprints of the group and didn’t ask them to sign any paper.

After a 15 minutes drive, on mostly unpaved roads, the officers stopped the car in a forest, and beat the group again with a police stick/baton. “Then, they pushed us back. There was a fence in the middle of the forest and there was a gap in the fence”.

The respondent explained that it was near to Matochina in Bulgaria where they were pushed back from. And the first town they arrived to on the Turkish side was identified as Hatipköy.

The respondent and his group walked back to Edirne. It took them 5 to 6 hours to reach the city. “We walked about 25 kilometres”, said the respondent.