“When they beat, you have no right to scream from the pain, you just have to remain silent”

  • Date and time: January 21, 2021 00:00
  • Location: Gemisti/Ipsala
  • Coordinates: 40.959025720049, 26.347401853564
  • Pushback from: Greece
  • Pushback to: Turkey
  • Demographics: 85 person(s), age: 15-61 , from: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Morocco, Algeria
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), insulting, theft of personal belongings, reckless driving, sitting on peoples heads
  • Police involved: 12 officers dressed in black uniforms with balaclavas; 2 white vehicles with blue writing, similar to Dacia Sanderos; 1 truck; 7 officers wearing green camouflage, two of which spoke Arabic with a Syrian accent, all others Greek
  • Taken to a police station?: yes
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: detention, no translator present, denial of food/water
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: josoor

Original Report

The respondent is a 31-year-old male from Morocco. He walked for about ten days with 4 other Moroccan men between the ages of 20 and 30 and one 26-year-old Moroccan woman to Xanthi, Greece, where he and the others were apprehended at night by 12 Greek officers. 

The officers were wearing black uniforms and balaclavas and had two vehicles with them, which were white with blue writing and similar to a Dacia Sandero. They told the group to sit down and proceeded to sit on their heads and ask where they were from. The respondent says that when he answered, “Morocco”, the officers “started to beat [him] more.” The respondent tried to ask for asylum but the officers wouldn’t let him talk and continued to beat him with a long baton. They also took everyone’s phones, extra clothing, and all other personal belongings.

From there, the group was put into a police vehicle and driven for about 1.5 hours to what the officers called a “commissariat.” The driver drove recklessly, going about 140-150 km/hr, as if they were “taking animals not human beings.” They passed one village on the way but mostly drove through wooded areas until they arrived at the detention centre, a “dirty” place that “looked like a little camp” or garage with “only a roof”, surrounded by a fence and located in the “middle of a forest.” 

Including the respondent and his group, there were around 85 people in total inside the detention centre, ranging in age from 15 to about 61 and consisting of people from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Morocco, and Algeria. There were about 5 women in the group, who were touched inappropriately by male officers as they “checked” them. 

The group was detained there for about 24 hours, during which time they had limited access to a “nasty and dirty” toilet, and were not given anything to eat or drink. Anytime they spoke the officer would “start cussing and telling [them] fuck you fuck you”. They spoke English only occasionally and the respondent said, “if you ask for food or water, they start cursing and telling you to sleep, there is no food or water for you…they treated us badly, even animals can’t accept that.”

After 24 hours, all 85 people were loaded into one truck and driven for about 45 minutes to one hour to the Evros/Meriç river. The driving was “so bad [we] kept colliding into each other.” 

At the river, five officers dressed in green camouflage and wearing balaclavas were waiting for them, as well as two others who were on a boat and spoke Arabic with a Syrian accent. The area was surrounded by trees but the spot they were put to wait had no trees. The officers hit the group with batons and told them to “be silent and step on the line.” The respondent recounted that “when they beat, you have no right to scream from the pain, you just have to remain silent.” 

12 people were put on the boat at a time, which was an inflatable boat, about 3 meters long, and driven by the two men speaking Syrian Arabic. They drove the people to the middle of the river and ordered them to jump out of the boat; “they didn’t care if you could swim or not.” After being transported across the river in one of the middle groups, the respondent found himself near Ipsala. He spent about two days walking from the pushback point to Edirne, which he estimates was about 120 kilometers.