The respondent is a 32-year-old man from Morocco. He was travelling in a group of 6 men, all from Morocco. They started their journey on 19/11 from a hotel in Edirne at around 8pm. They walked 7km to the Greek border, arriving around 10pm. The group jumped over the fence using a rope ladder. After this the group walked for around 3 hours into Greece. They lost their water while crossing the fence and so were looking for a place to take a drink. They approached a church to find water when they saw a big flashing light so hid in the corner of the church.
The respondent believed the police were wearing night vision goggles and were therefore able to find them quickly. The police arrived in a white and blue Skoda with Police written on it and blue and red sirens on top. The respondent identified it as the image below.
The other was a blue civilian car, believed to be a Clio or Meganne. This was identified by the respondent as the image below.
The final car was a pickup truck identified by the respondent as similar to the image below.
There were at least 10 officers inside the cars. Some officers wore a green camouflage military uniform, and some wore olive green, both carrying the Greek flag logo as pictured below.
Other officers wore black uniforms without logos.
All the officers carried guns, some large and some small, as pictured below.
An officer in a black uniform asked the group ‘Are you Christian?’ and pointed at the church. He asked several times why they came to the church if they are Muslim according to the respondent. Then he started screaming and kicking everyone. Several of the officers then started beating the group severely. The respondent stated that the officers continued to beat the group with plastic batons and kicked them for around 20 minutes and afterwards the group struggled to move. During this time the group begged the officers to stop.
The officers then forced the group to hand over their phones and lie down on the ground. Their phones were not returned to them. This was around 1 or 2 am on the 20/11.
After lying on the ground for around 10 minutes, a van drove right up to the space where the group were lying. The respondent was afraid he would be hit by the van. Then an officer kicked the respondent and the group, telling them to get up and take their bags. The van was an old white Mercedes, as pictured below.
The officers loaded the group into the van and took them to the detention site. The car drove for around 20 minutes on an unpaved road. The driving was extremely reckless and at one point a member of the group hit his head on the side of the van.
The respondent could not see the Detention site clearly in the dark but stated that it looked like a house with a big yard and old walls covered in peeling paint. The site was surrounded by a fence with barbed wire on top. The group were searched in the yard before being taken inside and a total of 8 officers were present. All these officers wore the olive-green uniform as pictured earlier (Image 5) with the Greek flag logo on their arm.
The officers told all the group to put their bags in the garbage and empty their pockets. 3 officers put gloves on and told the group to undress to be searched. The respondent reported that the group was totally naked for 10 minutes while they were searched by the officers. The only thing the group was allowed to keep was their money, which they took with them into the cell. This was at around 3 am.
The cell was around 4m by 5m, and inside were 10 more people aged 19-35. Their nationalities were Syrian, Afghan and one Palestinian. All the detainees were male. The group stayed in the cell for around 8 hours, and more people were brought throughout the night and morning. At the end there were around 80 people in the cell, from Syria, Afghanistan, Palestine, Morocco, and Algeria. In this group, there were 4 women, and one little girl around 1-year-old. The oldest person in the cell was around 65.
At around 10am on the 20/11, 10 officers came to the cell. These officers were not wearing a uniform, but civilian jeans and jackets with balaclavas. The officers spoke in Arabic saying, ‘Come out mother fucker, go outside.’
The officers loaded the group into the same old white Mercedes vans as before. There were 2 vans, both without logos or any mark to show that they were police vehicles.
They loaded around 35 people in each van then drove on an unpaved road for around 15 minutes. There was no view to the outside, and those in the van struggled to stay upright while driving.
The vans arrived at the side of the river, with a small path between the trees in the forest. The officers told the group to come out of the van and not make a sound. The officers continued to speak in Arabic, they said ‘give up your money and that will save you from getting beaten.’ Almost everyone in the group gave money, and those that refused or tried to hide their money were hit with a branch 3 times, and then searched again. Women were also beaten, and the officers took money, shoes and jackets from everyone according to the respondent.
There was already one plastic boat waiting by the side of the river when the vans arrived. The boat had only a paddle rather than an engine. They loaded nine people into each boat, which made the boat very unstable as it was only meant to accommodate 4. The boat was paddled into the middle of the river, then everyone was ordered to get out and go quickly into Turkish territory. The respondent and his original group were pushed back somewhere in the middle of the trips taken across the river.
After the group arrived on the other side of the river, they ran barefoot to Kapikule and then took taxis to Edirne. During the whole process, the group was afraid to ask for asylum in case they got beaten. They never returned the group’s personal belongings or provided food, water, or medical help.