“see this, the same thing will happen to you, never come back here”

  • Date and time: December 16, 2020 23:00
  • Location: near Vršac, Serbia
  • Coordinates: 45.232426886045, 21.327447284375
  • Pushback from: Romania
  • Pushback to: Serbia
  • Demographics: 20 person(s), age: 22 , from: Afghanistan
  • Minors involved? Unknown
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, pushing people to the ground, insulting, forcing to undress, destruction of personal belongings, theft of personal belongings
  • Police involved: 10 Romanian border police, 5 officers described as "Special" Romanian police, 2 police vans, and multiple Serbian Border Police
  • Taken to a police station?: no
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention:
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Unknown
  • Reported by: Collective Aid

Original Report

The interviewee, a 22 year old man from Afghanistan reported that he left from Vršac, Serbia on the 16th December with a group of 20 people-on-the-move (all men in their early twenties), heading for Romania. Soon after crossing the border into Romania, the group encountered four Romanian border police officers. The interviewee reported that the police started by asking the group to hand over their mobile phones. Those who refused were threatened with physical violence.

Besides the phones, the Romanian border police also demanded all personal belongings from the group, this included backpacks, shoes, food, jackets and money. Next, the Romanian border police started a fire and burned all of the group’s belongings. The interviewee reported that his friend, one of the people in the group tried to reach for his mobile phone that was thrown in the fire and the phone ended up exploding in his face causing a severe burn. While this was happening Romanian police were laughing at the whole situation.

As the border police were burning their belongings, a second police car arrived, however, the driver and passengers were not dressed as police officers; they were wearing black (bringing the total of officers on the scene to 15). First, they took photos of the people in the group, after which they beat up the member of the group who had been translating for the others. As the officers attacked him, they were shouting to the rest of the people-on-the-move:

“ see this, the same thing will happen to you, never come back here”

After this assault, the officers started beating everyone else with sticks, punches and kicks (the interviewee reported being beaten a lot in his head and back with the sticks and all over his body with the kicks and punches). Because the person in the group who had been translating was severely hurt, it was extremely difficult to communicate with the Romanian police. The Romanian police just kept insulting them and calling the interviewee offensive names.

Next, what the respondent described as Romanian “special police” or “border police” pushed the interviewee to the ground and forced him to do “50 “push ups while standing on his back. The interviewee reported that this was a form of entertainment for the other Romanian police officers while waiting for the Serbian border police to arrive on the scene.

Afterwards, the interviewee reported that Serbian police arrived and drove the group back into the Serbian interior. Once in Serbia, the Serbian police checked everyone’s camp ID cards and advised everyone to go to camps and called a bus to take the group back to the main bus station in Belgrade.