“A sick mother with her 10 year old son and her husband already experienced 8 pushbacks: “It's the third time this month. They took everything from me. Where is the law, where is the right or are we nothing for them? They don't care about us if we die or not, we are not considered as humans. They are not afraid of any law on this earth”. ”

  • Date and time: April 13, 2022 00:00
  • Location: Kraynovo BG/ Vaysal TR
  • Coordinates: 42.0048982, 26.8604851
  • Pushback from: Bulgaria
  • Pushback to: Turkey
  • Demographics: 20 person(s), age: 10-50 years old , from: Syria
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, pushing people to the ground, exposure to air condition and extreme temperature during car ride, insulting, sexual assault, threatening with guns, dog attacks, forcing to undress, destruction of personal belongings, theft of personal belongings
  • Police involved: 8x in sacramento green uniform with “border police” written on their backs; 1x german shepherd; 3 cars: 1x black Jeep, 2x green cars
  • 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, a 45-year-old woman from Syria, experienced 8 from Bulgaria pushbacks before. During all of them he was accompanied by his 10-years-old son. The latest pushback took place on 13.04.2022 from Bulgaria, Kraynovo to Turkey, Vaysal

On the 11th of April at 4 am a smuggler took the respondent and her group from Istanbul to Kirklareli and further to another village near the border in a van. The drive took 4 hours from Istanbul to the first village and then further 6 hours to reach the border. From there they had to walk for 12 km to get to the point of border crossing. They arrived at 2 pm on an unpaved road at the border. Both sides were fenced with a 4 meters high and barbed fence from top to bottom. The respondent, her husband and her son crossed to Bulgarian territory. They were in a group of 20 people, between 10 – 50 years old, all from Syria. Their smuggler stayed, only a guide came with the group. The deal was to reach a Bulgarian village with the support of the guide. From there they were supposed to be picked up and to be brought to Sofia. 

Once in Bulgaria, the group walked for 2 days. They got apprehended at 2 pm on the 13th of April, 2022. They were walking in the forest, sometimes in a valley with water, sometimes through more dried out parts. 8 men wearing Sacramento green uniforms with “border police” written in English on their backs appeared in the forest. A German shepherd accompanied them, similar to the one in the picture below. 

Image 1: German Shepherd

The respondent described and identified the uniform to look as the image below. 

Image 2: Bulgarian border police jackets

The uniformed men arrived in 3 cars, one black Jeep and 2 green cars, with “border police” written on the black car and some Greek insignia on the green car. 

The respondent’s husband recognized the cars to look like the vehicles in the following pictures. 

Image 3: Bulgarian Border Police – Discovery Landrovers
Image 4: Bulgarian Police Jeep

They carried a plastic baton and a gun in the holster. The group, including the respondent, her husband and son were laying down on the ground, trying to hide and to not be seen. The uniformed men used dogs to find them. The group had met a man on their way before being apprehended. That man was from Iran and had lost his group. He told them that police were coming but the guide didn’t believe him. The Iranian took another way and the group stayed with the guide. 

During the apprehension, the uniformed men were talking Bulgarian and Turkish to the respondent and the others. He kept repeating “Bulgaria no, money, phone” in Turkish. They forced them to kneel down, put their hands on their backs and forced them to give their money and phones. They started searching each one by one. 

The female respondent was searched in all body parts, “even my underwear and under my head scarf” to find money. “We couldn’t talk, we didn’t understand them, we couldn’t even look at them”. The men in uniform took from the respondent her backpack, 150 € and all her documents. She specifically pointed out that they also took her medical analysis which she was planning to use for claiming asylum in Bulgaria. The men also took her jacket and her medicines. Nothing was returned to the respondent. In total, they stayed for 1 hour at the apprehension site. 

After that, the uniformed men made them walk to the point where the 2 green vehicles were parked and started loading them in their trunks. The trunk itself was small, but they loaded 10 people in each car. “It was hard to breathe properly because we were so crowded and I am sick and my son barely could breathe. He is a kid”

In each vehicle, 4 uniformed men were present. The driving itself was normal and slow and lasted for 40 minutes. They arrived next to a big forest on an unpaved road. At the pushback point the same 7 uniformed men who already apprehended the group were present. They spoke Turkish and Bulgarian and carried metal batons. 

Once at the border, the uniformed men asked the men of the group to remove their shoes. “They saw my kid checking his pocket and they thought he was hiding something”. They searched him and everyone else again. The female respondent was searched again. At that point, she was wearing a sweater, pants and shoes. The uniformed men didn’t take her and her son’s shoes.

“I only experienced pushing and was screamed at while the man was checking my underwear. I was afraid that if I talked or had any reaction they would hurt my son. The man scared me with the baton which he put on my head while he was talking and I didn’t understand what he was saying. He looked at his friend and laughed.” 

They stayed for 20 minutes at the pushback point before the men in uniform opened a door in the border fence and pushed the group back. The door was a 2 by 1 meter pull-up door, through which they had to crawl in order to cross back to Turkish territory. 

Once in Turkey, they walked through mountains and hills until they arrived at a village after 4 hours. The family of three arrived at a village called “Vaysal”, a village approximately 6 km away from the pushback point. They found a public faucet from which they drank and entered a mosque and asked for help. The other people of the group, including the guide, left the family because the respondent discussed with the guide the fact that they could have avoided the police by listening to the warnings of the Iranian man. 

At the mosque, they met an imam who gave them some food and then asked a man to drive them to the nearest place from Edirne. 

The man drove for almost one hour. Then the respondent, her husband and her son walked for 3 hours to reach Edirne. 

“We couldn’t talk. You can’t talk if they dont ask you to talk. They even try to not let you look at them. Otherwise they will beat you. They beat the other men, they searched women, they don’t care and they are not afraid of any law on this earth”. 

The uniformed men took pictures of the respondent’s back while searching the group and beat other members of the group. 

“I am sick. I only wanted to go where they can help me with my operations. They took everything and they keep pushing me back every time. It’s the third time this month. They took everything from me. Where is the law, where is the right? Or we are nothing for them? They don’t care about us if we die or not, we are not considered as humans”.