“We didn’t run away from them because we knew if we ran they would beat us. One of the police officers he kicked me.”

  • Date and time: May 11, 2021 22:00
  • Location: Gevelija, North Macedonia
  • Coordinates: 41.128447982923, 22.516381116568
  • Pushback from: North Macedonia
  • Pushback to: Greece
  • Demographics: 5 person(s), age: 20-29 years old , from: Morocco
  • Minors involved? No
  • Violence used: kicking
  • Police involved: at least 5 officers in blue uniforms; 6 officers in military clothing and balaclavas; 2 vans with police written on the side; 2 big grey or blue army cars
  • Taken to a police station?: yes
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: fingerprints taken, photos taken, personal information taken
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: Anonymous Partner

Original Report

The respondent is a 20-year-old man from Morocco that was pushed back from North Macedonia to Greece on the 11th of May.

The respondent was travelling with four other men from Morocco, their ages ranging between 20-29 years old.

As they travelled through North Macedonia, close to Skopje, the group reportedly walked through a fruit plantation and eventually arrived in an urban area close to a train station.

The fruit plantation through which they walked.

According to the respondent, the transit group had tried to get a taxi but were instead apprehended by what he referred to as the North Macedonian police. Reportedly, five officers in blue uniforms arrived at the scene in two vans with ‘Police’ written on the sides.

“When they go out of the cars, they just start holding the batons to beat us, but we didn’t move, we were calm, so they didn’t beat us, they thought we were going to run or so.”

The group was then loaded into one of the vans and taken to a building referred to by the respondent as a police station. The drive took about two hours.

When they arrived at the station, the respondent recalled being kicked by an officer when he asked why they were brought to the station and what would happen to them there.

The were given a sandwich while they waited in the station, recounted the respondent.

After approximately two hours, the group was loaded into a vehicle (it is unclear if it was the same van as mentioned above) and driven for about two hours until they reached a small camp at the North Macedonia-Greece border, explained the respondent.

In the camp, the group’s fingerprints and pictures were taken. The respondent recalled the presence of a woman in civilian clothing acting as a Tunisian translator in the camp. She asked them questions about how they got there, who showed them the road and why they were there, described the respondent. The group was reportedly asked if they wanted to return to Morocco but was not allowed to apply for asylum in North Macedonia.

The respondent recalled the entire process only talking approximately 15 minutes, as they were the only group present at the camp.

They were then loaded into what the respondent described as two big dark blue or grey army cars with wooden planks in the rear where they were sat. The drive reportedly lasted about 10 minutes along a path through a forest.

At about ten o’ clock at night, the vehicles reached the border fence, and six other officers in military clothing and balaclavas brought the group to a gate in the fence, recalled the respondent. The men in uniforms then reportedly opened the gate and told them to go to Greece.

The gate in the fence was located approximately 50 meters west of the train track. On the map, the respondent indicated that the pushback happened in the area of Idomeni.

After they were pushed back, the respondent and his companions spent the night in the area and then travelled to Thessaloniki the following day.