On January 5th, 2017 at night forty eight people on the move, attempted to cross the Hungarian border near the Horgoš crossing. Forty-eight people started out, but 9 but got scared just before the border fence and decided to go back. The remaining 39 managed to cross the border onto the Hungarian side.
The interviewees were walking through the forest about fifteen kilometers north of the border (the location marked on the map) when they heard cars coming and decided to hide. Four marked police cars arrived. There were around fifteen policemen with trained dogs, heat-sensors and handguns. They saw the people on the move in the light, rounded them up and released dogs on them.
Then, without asking any questions, the police officers started kicking and beating the group of people on the move. Afterwards they searched them, checking pockets and backpacks, destroying money and smartphones. Money was shredded and smartphones smashed on the ground. Policemen took out batteries and SIM cards from each phone and destroyed them separately.
The police proceeded to confiscate all the warm clothing: jackets, gloves, hats, scarves, shoes and socks, leaving the 39 people on the move only in light jumpers and trousers. Every person who wore more than one pair of trousers was told to take them off.
Meanwhile, one more police car came. Newly arrived officers joined the rest. The police then hit one person with a stick, severely cutting his head. Afterwards they ordered everyone to sit in a line, with their legs spread, hands on their knees and bowed heads, and started pouring the water they had found in the bags over the the heads and clothes of the group of people on the move.
After that the police officers ordered one man to stand up with his hands behind his back. One of the police officers grabbed him by his collar, threw him on the ground and put a gun against his head.
“When he started crying and begging for mercy, the officer put his gun away while the other policeman put his leg on the man’s neck and held him down so others could kick him.”
The police then proceeded to once again release the dogs on the group of 39 people on the move. When they tried to back off to escape the dogs, police officers kicked them back towards the dogs. This was repeated several times. In the meantime, further police officers were drinking tea in the car observing and laughing.
Afterwards the police they put the group of 39 people in police cars and drove them back to the Serbian border. They set the air-conditioning to maximum in order to lower the temperature. They were brought back to the border where they were forced to read aloud a statement showed to them on a piece of paper, written in Urdu, Pashto and Farsi, stating that they crossed the border illegally and that they didn’t experience any verbal or physical violence from the Hungarian side. Those who didn’t read loud enough were yelled at and threatened. The Police recorded the reading of the statements.
Afterwards, at around eight in the morning, the 39 people were passed over to the Serbian side. The Serbians received them and ordered them to go towards Horgoš, but as they knew there’s no shelter in Horgoš except for the unofficial camp in the transit zone, they decided to walk the more than twenty kilometers to get back to Subotica.
“Only some of us got their wet shoes or socks back so we took off some of the remaining clothes we had and wrapped them around our feet. The temperature was down to -7 degrees at the time and it was snowing.”