“When I opened my eyes, they hadn't even washed away the blood. I have never seen such doctors before”

  • Date and time: August 6, 2021 00:00
  • Location: Gevgelija, North Macedonia
  • Coordinates: 41.128253, 22.517201
  • Pushback from: North Macedonia
  • Pushback to: Greece
  • Demographics: 20 person(s), age: 24 , from: Afghanistan
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), pushing people to the ground
  • Police involved: 3 Macedonian Police Officers, a small police car, a large Kombi Police Van, an unknown number of Police officers in the reception center and at the moment of detention
  • Taken to a police station?: no
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: fingerprints taken, photos taken, personal information taken, denial of food/water
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: Anonymous Partner

Original Report

The respondent is a 24-year-old man from Afghanistan. He had lived in Austria for nearly nine years when he was deported to Afghanistan. In the last 19 months, he has lived in Greece. 

On the 6th of August 2021, after traveling through North Macedonia for three days, he was walking with three other men with the intention of getting further into the European Union. On this day, the respondent felt unable to continue walking due to exhaustion from the extreme heat and the long way of traveling by foot. He had big blisters on his feet and his legs were hurting from all the walking. He decided to not continue any further and leave the group near Demir Kapija. He descended the mountains for a bit and eventually met a grape farmer on his way. The respondent asked the farmer to call the police to pick him up. The farmer asked him if he was sure before calling the police, and when the respondent confirmed, he called the police. 

The police showed up around 2 to 3 pm. First, he was alone with two or three police officers in a small car. While driving, the police stopped and arrested more people who were also put in the car. They were driving for around 20 minutes before switching to a bigger car (a Kombi) in which more people were loaded. After reaching the final destination, they were eventually a group of 40 to 55 people. 

The respondent described the police officers as “normal police”, most of them wearing black clothes and some wearing clothes in a deep blue color. Following the respondent’s description of the place and the area he was taken to, it is very likely that it was the Transit Reception Center of Gevgelija. He described the place as a gigantic site, a big camp, for people-on-the-move. Together with the group of people, the respondent stayed there for two to three hours.

 The respondent explained that he was unable to claim asylum at the transit and reception center:

“Please, they don’t even speak in a normal way with us. How should I claim asylum? …  They do not accept when you talk, so how should they give you asylum?”

At the transit and reception center, everyone’s fingerprints, photos, and names were taken. He was not provided with any food or water. The police officers talked to them in an assaulting and aggressive way. 

“How they speak doesn’t upset me because when they talk aggressively, I think: It’s his country, he can do whatever he wants. Yes, they talked in an aggressive way. He said maybe: “Shit Afghans”, I don’t know the language, but I know his feeling, so he is saying something like: “Shit Afghans, why are you coming here” or “Shit Pakistani”, or I don’t know.”

The respondent was then transferred from the transit reception center to the border with a group of around 35 people, including one or two women and several minors. Together with 18 to 20 other people, he was ordered to enter a car with space for six persons. After opening the doors of the car, the officers ordered them to leave the vehicle one by one. Two police officers were waiting outside and would beat everyone who stepped out of the car with batons. The respondent was beaten twice; once in the back and once on his head. He saw that other men were pushed to the ground and beaten more often and more aggressively. 

It was around 11 pm when the group was released and then passed through the gate to Greece. 

After the pushback, the group split up again and everyone made their own way. One man from the group approached the respondent, who proposed to go with him by train in the direction of Thessaloniki. The train station was a 30 minutes walk away. Close to the station, the respondent decided to take a rest. He preferred not to sleep directly at the station to prevent any incident and went to a spot down below. 

Around 5 am he woke up from a group of three people trying to steal his bag. They did not speak at all. They wore black Nike t-shirts and trousers. One had a boxer cut. When he tried to stop them from stealing his bag, they started to attack him. They beat him with their fists, kicked him, and stabbed him with two knives. The respondent tried to protect his head during the attack. Unable to defend himself against the three attackers, he was eventually left alone after 10 minutes, feeling shocked about what had just happened. 

The respondent carried heavy injuries from the attack on his hands, arms, face, and head. He had a big stab wound on his arm where he lost a lot of blood. 

Some of the injuries sustained by the respondent during the attack close to Idomeni. Pictures taken on 11/8/2021 after receiving medical assistance in Thessaloniki. 

The respondent managed to find a store close to where the incident took place and asked the people there to call an ambulance. His face was pale, he was feeling dizzy and he was unable to do much talking at all. The bleeding would not stop and he had already lost a lot of blood. The police came immediately, but they only took pictures of the wounds while screaming and talking to him in an insulting way. Only one officer talked in a normal and friendly way with him.

After one and a half hours, the ambulance eventually arrived. The respondent fell immediately asleep in the ambulance that brought him to Kilkis General Hospital, about a 30 minutes drive. When arriving the hospital, he was not treated well by the health staff. The doctors screamed a lot and he described the hospital as a very busy and restless place. The health staff did not allow the respondent to have a proper chance to rest, nor did they treat his wounds properly – the blood from the injuries were not cleaned at all. Instead of getting a feeling of being taken care of after the serious attack, the respondent felt even more distressed at the hospital. 

“When I opened my eyes, they hadn’t even washed away the blood. I have never seen such doctors before. (…) You can’t sew the wounds directly and just put a bandage on it. Well, it’s a shame that we are treated like this. It’s a shame, what can I say? I don’t have anything to say. It’s really a shame.”

He decided to leave after eight hours, feeling exhausted from the hospital visit. He then took a cab to Thessaloniki.