A group of 30 people on the move from Afghanistan, aged between 16 and 25 years old, attempted to cross the Romanian border on the 21st of January. The respondents described having started walking from the Serbian city Vršac until they crossed the Romanian border around 6-7 pm.
They had reached the Romanian side only some minutes before they saw something described as a flash of a camera. The respondents recalled being in a muddy path when the group suspected being detected by the camera. The group sat in a field and waited, trying to avoid apprehension by Romanian authorities.
After some minutes they began walking again for an unspecified amount of time. It was approximately 9 pm when seven Romanian male officers with black uniforms apprehended the group. According to the respondents, they were close to a road (Road 57) when some officers came up from the other side of the field and stopped the group. The respondents stressed that they could not see the authorities arriving; thus they did not even try to escape. Reportedly, the group was not able to see any police vehicle coming, because they were in a field from where the group could not see the road properly (approximate location: 45.258290,21.286065). According to the respondents’ understanding of the apprehension dynamics, the police officers arrived because they had previously detected them with the camera.
Firstly the group was ordered to sit on the ground with their hands on their heads, while the authorities were asking insistently to show who led them until the spot. Then, the respondents described being forced to stand up to hand over their mobiles. In fact, all members were searched for mobiles and telephones. Subsequently, the mobiles were broken in different ways: the respondents recalled that some mobiles were destroyed with batons, while others were buried under the ground. The respondents highlighted that one officer watched all the family’s pictures and videos collected in a member’s phone and immediately after he broke the mobile.
Apparently, the officers would have beaten three members of the group and none of the respondents was able to explain the reason why they choose only them. They guessed that the authorities only struck the three of them because they did not carry mobiles with them. Nevertheless one of the respondents said that the other two people, who received blows on their bodies, had already handed over their mobiles. He described the authorities having hit him and two other members with batons for what he felt like 15 minutes to him.
“He (one Romanian officer) told me to give him my mobile, but I didn’t have mobile with me, so he beat me for 2-3 minutes”
The respondents complained of feeling pain on his back, on his shoulder, and on his arms, where he mentioned having still some bruises.
(Bruise on the respondent’s arm after been pushed back from Romania. He took this picture some days later, but he complained of still feeling some pain in his arm.)
The respondents stated that they expressed their intention to apply for asylum in Romania, but stressed they had received a refusal by the authorities as an answer. The police officers were indeed described saying :
“No asylum, go, go. (…) Go to Germany, France, Italy. Romania no. (…)”
Moreover, the respondents pointed out that, at some point, the Romanian officers would have told them something in the line of:
“I’ll not tell you one more time, if you will come again to Romania next time you will all die.”
The group was held roughly a half-hour at the spot. Then, the respondents described having been ordered to follow the authorities, walking for approximately 30 minutes. They arrived around 10:00 pm somewhere close to the Serbian border (approximate location: 45.243632,21.294131) and they were subsequently ordered to walk in the direction of Serbia.
Afterward, the respondents searched for the nearest bus station (close to the Serbian city Vršac). They reached Belgrade on the morning of the 22nd of January.