“He touched my body and took off my head scarf and he kept kicking me and scream at me and rip my dress and keep searching and touching my body in front of my kid”

  • Date and time: July 18, 2021 00:00
  • Location: Vaysal
  • Coordinates: 41.941217, 26.870267
  • Pushback from: Bulgaria
  • Pushback to: Turkey
  • Demographics: 10 person(s), age: 10-32 years old , from: Syria
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, sexual assault, threatening with guns, destruction of personal belongings, theft of personal belongings, reckless driving, denial of food/water, denial of medical assistance, religious violence
  • Police involved: 7 x officers in a green uniform with the Bulgarian flag on their arm as in fig 2 in 3 green pick up trucks. One more green toyota pick up truck with 2 officers, one in a green uniform and another one in a black jacket, balaclava, blue arm band with green pants.
  • Taken to a police station?: no
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention:
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: josoor

Original Report

The respondent, a 32 female from Syria, walked from Edirne to the Evros river on 18/07/2021. She was walking in a group of 24 people who were all from Syria, including 6 women and children. The age of the group ranged from 2-40 years old. 

The group crossed the border close to Hamzabeyli at around 1:30pm using a smuggler. After the group had passed through the fence the smuggler left them and returned to Turkey. The group walked around 7km from the border with very little rest. They walked next to a forest along an unpaved road. 

At around 3pm, the group were apprehended by 2 officers wearing a green shirt and trousers. They were in a green pick up truck. The second car contained 3 officers and later another car joined with 2 more officers surrounding the group. All officers wore green shirts and trousers.  

The officers started to kick everyone in the group all over their body at around 3pm. They took all the possessions of the group including water, food, bags and medicine. The officers had guns and pulled them out to threaten those in the group. 

The respondent was searched by a male officer. The officers touched her body and took off her headscarf and “he kept kicking me and scream at me and rip my dress and keep searching and touch my body in front of my kid.” 

The officers kept the group in the same place for 3 hours while searching and beating them. During this time they were not provided with any food or water. The group were exposed to the sun and begged the officers for water for the children but were not provided with any. The officers had also confiscated medicine belonging to the children and refused to return it. 

The officers did not provide the group with any documents or take their fingerprints but took pictures of them with their phones. They asked the group in English ‘Where are you from  Where are you going?  Who is the smuggler who is the driver?’ The respondent told the officers that they were going to the camp and called another car to come. 

The other car was a green Toyota driven by 2 officers. One was wearing a sage green shirt and pants and the other a black jacket and green pants with a black balaclava. The officers wearing sage green had a Bulgarian flag on their arm and the respondent identified them as dressed as  in Figure 1. 

Figure 1 – Bulgarian border police

The one officer in black did not have the Bulgarian flag but a blue arm band, as identified by the respondent as similar to the officers in Figure 2. The officers spoke to the group in English and to each other in Bulgarian. The respondent states the officer in the black jacket was speaking a language that sounded like Russian. 

Figure 2 – officers identified as similar to these officers with blue armbands, which is Frontex uniform

The respondent’s child aged 10 looked at the officers and one officer kicked him. The child was also sick at this point as he was experiencing shortness of breath. 

Whilst threatening the group with a gun, the officers loaded the group into the green Toyota. The respondent and other members of the group said that they wanted to go to the camp, but the officers laughed at them and continued to slap the children, shouting at them to move faster. The children were scared and confused and stared at the ground. 

The respondent, with 9 other people including her child, 7 men and 1 other woman was loaded into the back of the Toyota, while the rest of the group was loaded into the other vehicles to be pushed back but the respondent did not see them again. Three officers also accompanied the truck with the respondent. 

The back of the Toyota truck was 1m by 1m and it was very hot inside. It was difficult to breathe in the back of the truck, and the respondent’s child was becoming sick. The respondent was afraid of dying in the back of the truck and kept colliding with other passengers. 

The officers drove the group for 30 minutes back to the fence on an unpaved road, driving recklessly. They then reached the fence next to the forest and unpaved road at around 7pm. The officers pulled down a ‘garage door’ in the fence to push the group back to Turkey.

The two women in the group were slow to get out of the truck and move towards the door, so the officers beat them and another man with batons and kicked them. 

The group walked for 4km into Turkey until they reached the village Vaysal and from there, left to Edirne.