Three families, Kurdish and Afghan, were pushed back from Romania twice in three days. The first pushback included violence, while the second was described as non-violent but with a threat of potential violence.
The respondent we spoke to for these reports was a 30 year old physician from Afghanistan. He is on the move with his sister, brother-in-law (30s) and nephew (three years old). They were travelling with a young Kurdish man and a Kurdish woman in her 40s travelling with her to 7 and 9 year old children.
All three families had left Vranje Camp and were moving toward the Romanian border together. The respondent described being approached by authroities near Bela Crkva (SRB) on the evening of June 12. They saw bright lights and heard people shouting at them that they needed to move; initially they were happy, assuming these were Serbian forces chasing them away from the Serbian border so they ran across the border into Romania.
Once they reached the Romanian side of the border they were soon-after apprehended by Romanian authorities and ordered to stop and the women and children were separated from the men. More than eight police officers were involved. The men of the group were slapped hard, kicked and were beaten with batons and cords, however, this was done through their clothing so that there were few physical signs of the injuries. This went on for some ten minutes.
The men were searched and their money, power banks and possessions taken; mobile phones were destroyed. The officers asked if everyone was Afghan and the Kurdish woman admitted to being Kurdish. At this time the male officers searched her body and took her money and mobile as well. The officers were also decribed as breaking the child’s tablet. The Afghan woman was not searched.
After this, Serbian authorities, two officers in one car, were called and took the group back to Serbia. The group-members reported the thefts to the Serbian police, but were told that nothing could be done. The man making this report said that in both this case and the latter case, the Serbian police were kind to them and did not employ any violence or speak to them cruelly.
Three days later, on the evening June 15, the group tried again, this time near the villeage of Jimbolia (ROM). Shortly after crossing, they were apprehended by Romanian officers approximately three or four kilometers from the border. The respondent described that the officers had been watching them with night vision or infrared cameras.
The Romanian authorities, three officers from two vehicles, did not beat them and the respondent referred to them as “good,” adding that they inquired after the young child and its well-being. Nonetheless, the officers we described to have said, “If we catch you tomorrow, we must beat you.” They were held in a corn field on the Romanian side of the border and looked for a possibility of escape. The respondent was told, “we are not bad men, but it you try to escape we must shoot you.” They did not try to escape because of the women and children in their company. Eventually, the group was brought back to the Serbian border and pushed back without further incident.