“They repeatedly said, “Ukraine, no Romania” and then the dog attacked the respondent”

  • Date and time: May 5, 2022 16:00
  • Location: Valcha Polyana BG to Hamzabeyli TR
  • Coordinates: 41.964762, 26.643187
  • Pushback from: Bulgaria
  • Pushback to: Turkey
  • Demographics: 2 person(s), age: 36, 53 years old , from: Iraq, Libya
  • Minors involved? No
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, insulting, dog attacks, forcing to undress, theft of personal belongings
  • Police involved: 5x men dressed in green uniform with Bulgarian flag on their arm and written Bulgarian Border Police on their back; 1x German shepherd dog; 3x men dressed in deep blue jacket with written police in white letters above the left chest of the pocket; 2x discovery landrover; 1x Green jeep
  • 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 36 year old man from Libya, recounted a violent pushback from Valcha Polyana BG to Hamzabeyli in Turkey on 5th May 2022. This was the respondent’s first pushback. 

On the 4/5/2022 around 16:00, together with a 53 year old man from Iraq the respondent crossed the border close to the Turkish village of Uzunbayır.  700 meters from where they crossed the border, the respondent saw cameras on the Bulgarian side of the border. These cameras were installed every three meters on the fence. On both sides of the fence the respondent saw trees that he described as a forest. 

After they crossed, they followed an unpaved road. The two men walked for a day with a thirty minute break every two hours. They walked in between farmlands, mountains and forests crossed a paved road when they continued walking in the forest. At around 10 am, on 5/5/2022, they arrived at the location close to the highway (location pinned by the respondent)

(Image 1 Location pinned by the Respondent)

The two men were approximately 200 meters from the main road where they were hiding in the forest. After three hours, the two men continued walking on road 7 between the Lesovo border gate and Elhovo. The two men walked on the paved road for about one kilometer when they were stopped. It was around 2pm when a green jeep stopped in front of them. The respondent identified the car as pictured below with the license plate starting with the letters BG.

(Image 2 Jeep identified by the respondent)

One man in a blue uniform stepped out of the car and asked the two men in English, for their ‘documents’. However, the two men did not carry any ‘documents’ with them. The respondent described the uniform as a deep blue jacket and pants with written police in white letters above the left chest of his pocket. On his arm, the man had a logo with a lion on it. Upon request, the respondent identified the uniform as being similar as pictured below.

Bulgaria: The Policemen are Again Complaining About Problems with Uniforms and Shoes(Image 3 Blue Bulgarian Police Uniform, close up)

The two men were instructed to stand on the side of the road. The respondent described that from then onwards, all the communication happened through sign language and the men in blue uniforms pointing with their index finger. Then the man talked with someone on the phone in Bulgarian. Then, the man in the blue uniform opened the trunk of the car and instructed the two men to enter the car from the back. The respondent described the trunk as two by two meters with many old tires in the back. There were windows and the respondent could look outside. After three minutes of driving up north, the car stopped, and two other men, wearing the same uniform entered the car. One of the men instructed the respondent and his friend to keep their heads low. 

 They drove for 20 minutes on the paved road when they came to a crossroad. Here they changed directions and entered an unpaved road for a few meters. The men parked the car and stepped out of the car. The respondent described that when the men stepped out of the car they were all wearing balaclavas. They instructed them to get out of the car and to stand close to the trees on the unpaved road. When they stepped out of the car, the respondent said the men in blue uniform started beating them immediately with plastic batons. The beating continued for about 15 minutes. 

After the beating, the two men had to undress and they were standing naked for about 15 minutes. The men in blue uniform took their backpacks, phones, money and shoes. The respondent and his companion were both carrying around 250 euros. The Iraqi man was instructed to open his phone and enter his security code. Then, one of the men in blue uniform took a picture of the two men when they were naked. After this, the two men were instructed to get dressed. Again, there was no communication in English but with their hands. At this stage, the documents of the two men on the move were not checked.

Around 15:00 the two men went into the trunk of the car. The respondent described that when he was looking outside of the window that one of the men in blue uniform gathered the belongings of the two men on the move and hid it in between the bushes. Then they drove for about ten minutes on unpaved roads.

After 10 minutes, the car arrived at the border. The respondent described that he saw an unpaved road and a fence and there were cameras on the fence. He continued and said, there was a forest from both sides of the border and he could see the wind turbine in the Turkish territory. At this location, the respondent saw two landrover jeeps. The respondent identified the cars as the ones pictured below.

(Image 4 Bulgarian Border Police – Discovery Landrovers) 

The respondent also mentioned that there were five other persons present; including one woman and a dog handler. The respondent described that they were wearing green shirts and pants. Two of the persons were wearing long sleeve shirts while the three others were wearing short shirts with a Bulgarian flag on their arms. On the back of their uniform, as recalled by the respondent, it had written border police on their back. The people described by the respondent were armed, wearing a gun that remained in their holster and a plastic baton in their hands. The respondent identified the uniform as being similar as that is pictured below.

(Image 5 Shoulder of uniform with flag)

(Image 6 black German Shepherds recognized by the respondent)

In what follows, the respondent described how they were pulled out of the car by men in green uniforms. The female person dressed in the green uniform entered into one of the cars and the other people dressed in green uniform instructed them to stand up. They forced the two men to undress again. Here they were searched. The respondent described how they were searched and his ‘private parts’ by a man. After being searched, the respondent was given his shirt and pants back, however, the clothes from the man from Iraq were not returned. 

Using Google Translate, the persons dressed in green started asking the two men questions: They asked them where they were from, and the two men replied Libya and Iraq. Then they asked, where do you want to go? The two men replied by saying we want to go to Romania. One of the men dressed in Green then asked the two men if they were soldiers. The respondent replied no, but the man from Iraq said yes. The man asked them why they wanted to go to Romania. The respondent replied by saying that they want to claim asylum. The man replied, “no Romania you go to Ukraine”. The respondent replied by saying, I do not want to go to Ukraine. The man repeatedly said, “Ukraine, no Romania” and took the dog from the other person dressed in the green uniform. Then the dog attacked the respondent. The dog bit him in his wrist. At the same time, the other four men dressed in green uniforms started beating the naked man from Iraq. Then the man who instructed the dog to attack the respondent instructed now to let go. When the dog released the respondent, the man who was handling the dog, started beating the respondent.

The respondent said the beating lasted for about five minutes. The man from Iraq could barely walk. Then, around 16.00, the men dressed in green uniforms opened the door in the fence and pushed the two men to Turkey. The door, as described by the respondent, was a flip door that had to be opened from above. The hole in the fence was about half a meter. The two men were instructed to cross the border. At this time, the respondent was wearing a shirt and pants while the other man from Iraq, was still naked.

(Image 6 picture of the respondent’s arm)

After they were pushed back, the two men walked for two kilometers when they found old clothes for the man from Iraq who until this time, was still naked. Then, the two men continued walking for around two more kilometers when they came to the paved road. At 18.00, they reached the Turkish village of Hamzabeyli. Here, Turkish citizens brought the two men to Edirne. 

During their short stay in Bulgaria no fingerprints were taken. The men in green uniforms did not communicate with the two men in English and there was no interpreter present. When the testimony was taken, the respondent showed the wounds he obtained from the dog that attacked them.