The respondent in this case had attempted to cross the Greece-N. Macedonia border five times in the space of a week, suffering multiple pushbacks. The respondent describes the push-back that occurred on one of these occasions (27/28th of January) from N. Macedonia to Greece.
The respondent was travelling from the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki by train (10-12 carriages), arriving in the border town of Gevgelija, N. Macedonia. The train left Thessaloniki at approximately 17:00 on the 27th January 2020 and arrived at Gevgelija station at around 18:45. The respondent was travelling in a transit group consisting of Moroccan and Afghani men, including his friend who was 32 years of age. The group was comprised of approximately 50-55 people ranging from the ages of 18-32 years of age.
On arrival, the police chased a group of people, including the respondent, over a fence and into a small forested area. The police caught the group that was attempting to escape using search lights (it was dusk) and proceeded to beat them. The respondent explains that there were nine police officers – seven men and two women. The respondent recounts the police saying:
“Get down. Get down on your knees now.”
“We are from Czech. We hate immigrants. So, if you come again, we are going to beat you. Stop coming here.”
The respondent explains that the police beat him with flashlights and kicked the men in the back and knees. The respondent explains that his friend was so heavily beaten that he ‘almost lost his eye’.
“They beat us… Maybe they are going to kill you. Our friend almost lost his eye (from the physical violence carried out by the police officers). They are violent. They don’t respect immigrants.”
The police searched the respondent’s phone – going through his photos and maps. The police officers brought the transit group to a small police station where they took the respondent’s fingerprint and asked for his name, age and city that he traveled from. The respondent describes the police station as small, with two/three compartments. The officers also took photos of the men in the transit group, including the respondent. The transit group were not offered any translator or any medical assistance for their injuries despite the beatings. The respondent did not ask for asylum.
“They take us to the police station to take our fingerprint, ask where we are from and how we came to Macedonia – so they can close the border. But we, the immigrants, don’t tell them because it is the only way to get inside of here (N. Macedonia).”
The respondent was kept in the police station for approximately two hours and then was taken back to the N. Macedonia-Greece border. The respondent explains that they were taken to an entrance on the border and were told by the Czech police officers to cross to Greece. The respondent was threatened to never return. Once on Greek land, the respondent was transported to the Greek village of Chamilo (see map below).
The respondent attempted to re-cross the border the following day. He explained that it was a similar sequence of events, however as the respondent did not attempt to run away, the respondent alleges he was not beaten by police. He was taken to the police station where the officers took his fingerprint and personal details. The respondent was returned to the N. Macedonia-Greece border as in the previous attempts and pushed back to Greece where Greek police officers brought him to the nearest village. Every time, the respondent had to buy bus tickets to return to the Greek city of Thessaloniki.