On 15th May 2020, a transit group of 11 people crossed the Evros River from Edirne (TR) into Greece. After watching a group of approximately 70 people on the move get pushed back the night before from Greece to Turkey, the transit group decided to walk to another location where they successfully crossed the border.
They slept for one night and then walked for ten days; by the ninth day (29th May 2020) the respondent advised the group were starving so two group members decided to enter a village to buy food. They never returned, and after waiting many hours, the group decided to continue walking. When they reached the next village, again two members entered town to buy food, but were caught and beaten by police until they gave up the location of the others. Police arrived, arrested the transit group and violently beat them.
The transit group were taken to a police station where they stayed from the morning of 29th May 2020 until 20:00. The respondent alleges that at the police station, the officers took everyone’s belongings (including money, bags, documents, food and water), stripped the men totally naked and beat them in a degrading manner. They were then put in cells with other women and families who were caught somewhere else, in order to humiliate the transit groups (according to the respondent). The police did not offer the transit group food, water, or access to a toilet, and they also threw away the food and water they had bought from the village.
Afterwards, the transit group were transferred to another police station for 30 minutes. At approximately 20:30 (29th May 2020), they were taken to the GR-TR border where they were pushed back to the Turkish side across the Evros River. The transit group were handed over to authorities who the respondent described as men wearing dark uniforms with black masks; he alleges they were Commandos. These ‘Commandos’ pushed the transit group back across the river with rubber boats and beat and kicked them until they reached Turkey.
The respondent alleged that he recognised one of the officers involved in the push-back as someone who tortured him when he went to a police station to try to report that his documents, passport, and residence papers from Austria were stolen from him during his visit to Greece in 2016.
From here, the transit group walked to the closest village (the respondent alleged it was close to Edirne). They walked until spotted by police, who took them to the bus station in order to get to Istanbul. At the bus station, the transit group could not find help from anyone to take them to Istanbul because they did not have any money with them, so the police took them to a gas station nearby and told them to try to find help there. The next morning (30th May 2020) a man with a van agreed to drive the transit group to Istanbul in return for €100.00 per person upon arrival.