The respondent, a 36 year old man from Tunisia, crossed the border from Serbia to Hungary at a point close to Horgos at around 23:30 on April, 1st, 2021. He was travelling in a group of 25-30 people from Tunisia, Morocco, Syria and Egypt, all male, including 3 minors (aged between 16-17 years old). The respondent described scaling the first of the two border fences separating Serbia and Hungary. During this act, he injured one of his legs on landing. (Note: at the time of interview the respondent was still limping and using crutches to walk). The respondent described how the ditch immediately after the fence exacerbated the injury upon landing:
“They make the floor after the fence in the shape of a U so you hurt your legs when you jump. They are not stupid.”
According to the interviewee, the police arrived at the area between both border fences seconds after they started crossing. The respondent described that around five officers arrived in two different cars: one white van with blue stripes and the Hungarian flag and one “big military” green car. Some of the officers were wearing a dark blue uniform with the Hungarian flag on the arm and the others were wearing khaki camouflage uniforms.
The majority of the transit group was already scaling the second fence as the police arrived. The respondent described that one person from the group was unable to cross the second fence and was apprehended by the officers and allegedly sprayed with tear gas.
“They spray you with that gas because they want to destroy the migrants without beating them up”.
The respondent ran with the rest of the group to a nearby lake and entered it – water level up to his chest – in order to hide from the officers. The respondent explained that the officers could be looking for them with torches around the forested area into which the group had run. Four more people from the group joined the respondent in the lake some minutes later. They waited there for nearly two hours, until four officers in dark blue uniforms found them. The interviewee reported that they were found after a helicopter spotted them. The officers reportedly kicked 3-4 people in the group twice after they came out of the lake. The officers searched them and then made them wait on the grass for around two hours.
“They shouted at us to scare us” … “It was freezing because we were all wet.”
The respondent described that he asked for both asylum and medical care for his injured leg during that time. One of the officers allegedly laughed in response to the asylum claim and told him:
“If you don’t want to hurt your leg, don’t jump.”
The group was then made to get into the rear part of a van which had a caged compartment. The van was white with blue stripes and the Hungarian flag. It drove for 5 minutes until it reached the Röszke-Horgos border crossing.
“We are in the van like animals. I was in a lot of pain.”
There, the group had to stand in a line outside for 10 minutes with several other transit groups already detained there (including people from Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt). The respondent reports that he saw three different police vans bringing people to this point, until they were all assembled together as approximately 20 persons. The respondent describes that during this time lined up there were 5 police officers in blue uniforms present. The officers searched them and asked for their names and phones.
“If someone said they didn’t have any phone, they threatened to kick them because they thought they were lying.”
The officers took all the phones inside of a room and gave most of them back after five minutes. Two of the phones were reportedly not given back, one of them was given back not working – due to alleged excessive input of voltage -, and the respondent’s phone was returned without the SIM card compartment.
“When the two people protested to get their phones back, they were kicked.”
After this, the whole group was made to walk back to Serbia at the border crossing at around 3:30AM, April 2nd, 2021. The respondent described that one Serbian policeman – in dark blue uniform – was waiting on the other side with one police car – white with blue stripes. He allegedly asked the group members who had a camp ID card (for reception centres in Serbia). For those who did, the officer took them to nearby a building and asked for their names. The rest were let go.