“They beat you inside, because when they return you in this way you feel yourself hurt”

  • Date and time: May 10, 2021 00:00
  • Location: near Idomeni, Greece
  • Coordinates: 41.130126131338, 22.515772176189
  • Pushback from: North Macedonia
  • Pushback to: Greece
  • Demographics: 5 person(s), age: 22-30 , from: Morocco
  • Minors involved? No
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other)
  • Police involved: two police officers in black pant and blue shirt, three officers in civilian clothes
  • Taken to a police station?: yes
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention:
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: No
  • Reported by: Mobile Info Team

Original Report

The respondent is a 26-year-old man from Morocco. He was pushed back from North Macedonia to Greece on the 10th of May 2021.

The respondent was traveling together with six other Moroccan men and one pregnant woman. They were aged from 22 to 30 years old. 

When the group arrived in Ohrid, they were approached by two police officers in a police car. The respondent supposed that a resident called the police after seeing them.

The officers were described as wearing black pants and blue shirts. The car was a blue van with police insignia on it and a metal cell inside. 

The police proceeded to take the respondent’s group with this van to a nearby police station. They first took the respondent with four other men and then came back for the pregnant woman and her husband.

The drive lasted about 15 minutes. During the drive, the officers were alternating between extreme car temperatures.  

Once they all arrived at the Ohrid police station, a police officer punched one of the people apprehended in his stomach.

With the information that the respondent gave, one can assume that this is the police station location: https://goo.gl/maps/kwmuaR8t4PFJyKSK6 

While waiting for the couple to arrive, the respondent’s group was given food and water outside the police station. 

Everyone was then brought inside the police station, the officers interviewed the seven people-on-the-move. Their personal information was taken and they were questioned about how they crossed the borders.

They remained for approximately one and a half hours at the police station.

According to the respondent, five police officers were present. Two of them were wearing police uniforms, the others were wearing civilian clothes. The respondent also described someone in civilian clothes using a camera that he supposed to be a journalist.

Then, the two officers who apprehended the group earlier loaded the five men into the same car and drove them for two hours to what the respondent described as “a checkpoint”. The respondent recalled that this checkpoint was close to the railway and a petrol station. They also brought the couple afterward.

Once there, their fingerprints and pictures were taken. According to the respondent, an Arabic-speaking woman in civilian clothes offered them to be brought back to Morocco if they wanted to. The respondent could not tell if she was working for state authorities or for another organization. The group stayed there for about 20 to 30 minutes.

The respondent noticed a group of people from Pakistan, being in the same place before them and then brought back to the border.  After the respondent left, there was another group arriving at this “checkpoint”.

In a drive of 10 to 15 minutes, the respondent was then taken to a gate at the border, along with the four other Moroccan men. The woman with her husband at this point were separated from the group and were not brought to the border together with them. They were pushed back between 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. While walking through the gate, the officers were threatening them to not come back.

When asked if he was subject to violence at this gate, the respondent stated:

“They beat you inside, because when they return you in this way you feel yourself hurt, especially when you go back to Greece it is very dangerous, Greece you think yourself like in Turkey.  If you didn’t get away from Greece you will come back to the first point.”

From there, the group of five people on the move followed the tracks and boarded a train the next day to Thessaloniki.