In the late evening hours of February 21st 2020 a group of eight persons from Iraq made their way across the Serbian/Romanian border. The group consisted of two families. The first family consisted of a mother, father, two daughters, and one son. The second family consisted of a father, a mother, and one eleventh month old child.
The group entered into Romania near the city of Kikinda (SRB) at around 10:00 on February 21st and walked for approximately four hours over a distance of close to 5 km until they were stopped by Romanian authorities wearing blue uniforms at around 2:00 am on February 22nd. Four police cars (with two officers inside of each car) surrounded the group, pointing lights in their direction and shouting at them not to move. The respondent recalled that these officers called on their radio to some other people.
Shortly thereafter, a van arrived with five officers dressed in military camouflage, each one of whom had their faces covered with black ski masks. One of the camouflaged officers approached the families (the other four remained next to the van) and aggressively demanded for their belongings. Accordingly, the families gave up all of the money they had in their possession (the family of five had 400 EUR while the other had 200 EUR). The officer also asked the group for their mobile phones, which were then broken on the ground, using batons. Then, this officer patted down each of the group members in a way that was described by the respondent as rough and aggressive, including the four women. The families were then pushed in the van, and during the entire way back to the border they were exposed to extreme cold temperature, with the respondent describing that the vehicle’s air conditioning had been turned on).
Once they reached the border, which was a short drive away, the families were pushed out of the van and ushered back to Serbian territory while being struck by batons on their bodies. The officers were described as using an electric device to shock the two fathers during the push-back: one of them was holding his 11 months child in his arms.
The group were returned to the Serbian side of the border and collected themselves before returning to Kikinda (SRB).