“They had to wait there for several hours and they were not allowed to fall asleep”

  • Date and time: February 27, 2021 00:05
  • Location: Near Kelebija, Serbia
  • Coordinates: 46.155350914764, 19.549281403613
  • Pushback from: Hungary
  • Pushback to: Serbia
  • Demographics: 30 person(s), age: 23, 35 , from: Afghanistan, Iran
  • Minors involved? Unknown
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, theft of personal belongings
  • Police involved: 20 Hungarian officers in camouflage uniform, 4 black and 1 blue and white vans, 4-5 Hungarian police officers in grey uniform, 4 officers in Serbian police uniform
  • Taken to a police station?: no
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: detention, fingerprints taken, photos taken, personal information taken, denial of food/water
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: No
  • Reported by: Collective Aid

Original Report

The respondent, a 35 years old Iranian man, crossed the border to Hungary from a place close to Sombor (Serbia) in the afternoon of February 26th, 2021. He was with his friend, a 23 year old Iranian man. The respondent reported that they walked for 3-4 hours in the forest before they were apprehended by around 20 officers in camouflage uniform who arrived in four vans (4 black and 1 blue/white). The apprehension occured at around 20:00, and the respondent shared that he thought they were found due to an ariel drone they saw minutes before overhead. 

Upon apprehension, the pair was allegedly hit with black batons by one of the officers. According to the respondent, they were then forced to sit, while impact blows were delivered two/three times to their arms. The police did not respond or stop when the respondent’s friend told them his leg was in pain from the position they were forced to crouch.

After the baton assault, the officers would have checked them for possesions. Firstly, they asked for their phones and, in words of the respondent, “checked the apps” before giving them back. The police reportedly took their power banks, chargers and headphones and kept them.

Then they were loaded into one of the vehicles and driven for 35 minutes. They were unloaded and taken into a large grey tent. The interviewee recalls that there were around 40 more people-on-the-move from different countries inside of the tent, as well as 4-5 police officers in grey uniform. The respondent claimed that these officers believed him to be a smuggler and checked his phone –”apps and maps”– again. When he replied he was not a smuggler they yelled:

“Why are you lying?”

After checking his phone for some minutes and taking pictures of both of them, the officers sent them to a corner of the tent, where most of the other people-on-the-move were also sitting. The respondent explained that they had to wait there for several hours and they were not allowed to fall asleep – they were allegedly kicked by one of the officers when that happened. During this time, they reportedly asked for water but were not given any. 

The respondent reported that he and his companion were loaded into a bus with more than 30 other people-on-the-move at around 03:00 (27th February 2021). There were “5-6 Afghan people and others from Arabic origin”. The bus drove for two hours until they reached a gate in the fence near Kelebija and were made to walk back to Serbia. The pushback occured at around 05:00 on February 27th.

According to the respondent, four officers with the uniforms of the Serbian police were waiting on the other side of the border. They allegedly took pictures of them and of their camp ID cards, as well as their fingerprints, on the spot and let them go.