“They took their phones, money and jackets and lit them on fire”

  • Date and time: January 30, 2021 02:30
  • Location: Near Kikinda, Serbia
  • Coordinates: 45.883057889992, 20.576187099805
  • Pushback from: Romania
  • Pushback to: Serbia
  • Demographics: 10 person(s), age: 16-35 , from: Afghanistan, Iran
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, destruction of personal belongings
  • Police involved: 6 Romanian policemen in dark blue uniforms, 2 white cars, 1 white van. 2 Serbian policemen in dark blue uniforms
  • Taken to a police station?: no
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention:
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: No
  • Reported by: Collective Aid

Original Report

The respondent, a 30-year-old man from Iran, reported he left from Kikinda (Serbia) in the evening of 29th January 2021, with a group of two other Iranian men, six Afghani men and one 16-year-old Afghani minor. They were ten people in total. The respondent recalled that after walking for 3 hours, they crossed the border with Romania at midnight and walked for another hour in the woods before being apprehended by 6 policemen in dark blue uniforms at 1 AM on 30th January 2021.

According to the respondent, the officers arrived in two white cars and one white van. They made the group stand in a line for a few minutes and reportedly took everyone’s phones, money, and several jackets, made a pile with the items and lit it on fire. The respondent said he was then able to get his shoes back from the fire, which showed clear signs of having been burnt.

The respondent reported that they were put in the van after that and driven back to the border. The journey lasted for 15 minutes and at the border, they were made to leave the vehicle. They were then allegedly kicked and beaten with batons one by one by two of the policemen, while the officers shouted:

“Don’t come back to Romania!” 

The officers also allegedly asked the respondent if he could speak English and hit him every time he said “no”. The respondent reported that everyone, including the minor, was hit for around 2 minutes, on the head, torso, arms and legs.

The respondent reported that they were then told to “run back to Serbia” -crossing a small river/creek at the border- at 2:30 AM, where two Serbian policemen in dark blue uniforms were waiting. According to the respondent, the officers asked them about their names and nationalities and called three taxis for the group that took them to Belgrade. The transit group had to pay for the taxis with money borrowed from friends staying in Belgrade upon arrival.