“A bullet could have come out at any second and killed one of us”

  • Date and time: April 7, 2022 10:00
  • Location: Kosti to Avcılar
  • Coordinates: 42.0579954, 27.7800404
  • Pushback from: Bulgaria
  • Pushback to: Turkey
  • Demographics: 2 person(s), age: 34-38 years old , from: Morocco
  • Minors involved? No
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, threatening with guns, theft of personal belongings, reckless driving
  • Police involved: 4 men wearing sacramento green jackets and pants and black boots; 2 men wearing dark blue uniforms with “police” written on their arms and across their backs; 1 green jeep with writing on the side of it and a spare wheel on the back; 2 black Land Rover Discoverys with “border police” written in white uppercase letters on the front as well as on the side;
  • Taken to a police station?: no
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention:
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: josoor

Original Report

The respondent, a 34-year-old Moroccan man, was pushed back from Kosti, Bulgaria to Avcılar, Turkey, on April 7th, 2022. This was reportedly his 5th pushback, having been illegally pushed back from Greece once and Bulgaria three previous times.

On April 4th, the respondent and his friend, a 38-year-old Tunisian man, reportedly took a bus from Edirne to Demirköy at 10 a.m. They approximate that the ride took about 30 minutes, after which they reportedly walked for around three hours until they arrived at the border at approximately 2 p.m. The respondent described the spot where they crossed, saying, “it wasn’t near any village or city. It was in the middle of a forest, there were trees. There was an unpaved road in Bulgarian territory after the fence.” The fence was about five meters high and had barbed wire “from top to bottom.” 

After crossing over into Bulgarian territory they continuously walked for three days straight, mostly resting during the day and walking at night, recalled the respondent. 

At 8 a.m. on April 7, they were apprehended near a public water fountain at the entrance of Malomirovo. The respondent recalled, “We were so thirsty we stopped to drink water from the public water fountain. It was already early morning and when the cars were driving on the road we thought they were civilian cars because they weren’t typical police cars, which are blue and white. But when they arrived, they immediately got out  of the cars and caught us. We saw “border police” written and we knew we were caught.” 

When asked to further describe the vehicles, the respondent recalled two black Land Rover Discoverys that had “border police” written in white uppercase letters on the front as well as the side. The respondent also identified the cars from the image below. 

Image 1: Bulgarian Border Police – Discovery Landrovers 

According to the respondent, four men in uniform proceeded to get out of the two black vehicles; they were wearing sacramento green jackets and pants, and black boots, and had “border police” written on their backs and an insignia of a lion with the Bulgarian flag—white, red, and green—on their shoulders. 

The respondent recalled three of the men carrying firearms in their holsters, and one man un uniform having it out and aiming it at the respondent and his friend. The respondent said, “The gun was aimed at us and the man was nervous and angry and kept moving the gun so we wouldn’t move. A bullet could have come out at any second and killed one of us.

At first, the respondent described, the uniformed men only spoke in Bulgarian, but then they eventually spoke a little English to them, saying “don’t move” and “fuck you”. They subsequently put the respondent and his friend in handcuffs and made them walk from the paved road into the woods, where they forced them to kneel on the ground. The uniformed men reportedly began to kick the respondent and his friend,  and then proceeded to searched them, confiscating their phones, jackets, backpacks, shoes, and a total of 70 Lev. The respondent said the uniformed men asked them where they were from and where they wanted to go, but hit and kicked them when they responded. He recounted, “I said ‘I want to go to Germany and apply for asylum there. I will not stay in Bulgaria.’ He kicked me on my chest and told me ‘No Europe’ and he kicked me on my stomach and told me ‘I will kill you.’”

When asked if he or his friend had asked for asylum in Bulgaria, the respondent said, “While they beat us I told them ‘Camp,’ but that probably made them more angry. They kept beating us and didn’t care about what I said.”

According to the respondent, after about 30 minutes, a green jeep with Bulgarian writing on the side of it and a spare wheel on the back arrived at the scene; its trunk window was tinted black and the license plate started with “BG”. The respondent recognised it from Image 3.

Image 3: Bulgarian Police Jeep

The respondent recalled that two men wearing dark blue uniforms with “police” written on their arms and across their backs were driving the vehicle. He said the uniforms matched the ones in Image 4.

Image 4: Blue Bulgarian Police Uniform, close up

The respondent and his friend were subsequently loaded into the trunk, which measured about one by two meters, and didn’t have any seats. They were driven for approximately 40 minutes; the respondent said the driving was “fast and reckless” along unpaved roads, which they could feel but not see due to the blackened windows.

According to the respondent, when they arrived at the border, they were taken out of the green jeep and found that the other two black cars and the four men in green uniforms had accompanied them there. The respondent recounted seeing a large “unofficial” door in the fence, which was about five meters high and three meters wide. At first, the door wouldn’t open, and one of the men got so angry that he reportedly kicked and beat the respondent and his friend with a plastic baton. The respondent guessed he was angry because he thought he had driven all the way to the border for nothing, and blamed them. The beatings lasted for around ten minutes, and the other men in the green uniforms joined in, recounted the respondent. 

Once the beatings finished, the respondent and his friend were forced to sit on the ground for about 30 minutes until the door in the fence was opened. The uniformed men then forced the respondent and his friend to go through the door and enter Turkish territory; as they were pushed back, one of the uniformed men said to them, “If you come back to Bulgaria I will kill you.” The respondent estimated that the push back occurred at around 10 a.m.

The respondent and his friend walked, barefoot, for about an hour and a half until they arrived at a village called Avcılar. From there, they were able to get a taxi back to Edirne.