The respondent and eight others had crossed the border and spent seven days walking in Greece, passing and visiting two villages first and then walked up a mountain and continued to walk from there. In total, they walked about 30km.
On the seventh day, at night, the respondent and the eight others arrived in Komotini, aiming to get to Thessaloniki. Just outside Komotini, they came across two cars that subsequently surrounded them. The cars were described as 4×4 white Land Rovers. They carried four men, dressed in black uniforms that had a symbol on the uniform. The respondent was not sure specifically what the symbol was as they were told to keep their eyes down.
They stepped out of the cars and questioned where they were from. “When they figure out you’re Moroccan or Algerian they will hit you more” stated the respondent. They hit the respondent, who is Moroccan, twice on the arms, once on the elbow. He yelled and screamed in pain but the men told him not to shout. He was then arrested and handcuffed and put into a white van, similar to a Ford, together with the eight others. There were no seats in the van.
The Greek men started to bombard them with questions. “Where are you from?”, “How did you get here?” they proclaimed. The group was then brought to a police station, where they were questioned again. Those that told the police that they were Moroccan or Algerian were beaten more than the others. All of them were told to take their clothes off, asked again where they were from and then put in a cell where many other people were already detained. There were only two toilets and it was very crowded so they all had to stand. They were standing from 5am to 9pm.
At the detention site in the cell, there was a small window and when looking outside, the respondent saw four to five German cars. There was a ‘D’ on the license plate, which represents Germany.
Then, at around 9pm, they all had their clothes returned, but not their other personal belongings. Their shoes were returned but the police had removed the laces from the shoes. A man who was wearing all black and had a balaclava on told them to leave the cell. When they left the station, the same van that had brought them was waiting for them. Several policemen were hitting them on their legs as they got into the van. The respondent was hit twice on the face by hands and twice on the legs and back with sticks. The van then took them to the Evros river while at least some of the other people were taken there with other vehicles.
“They treated us nicely at the river so the Turkish police didn’t hear them. We started to tell each other to not tell them [the police] you are Moroccan or Algerian. One of the men forgot and said he was Moroccan and he was hit”, the respondent explained.
The police officers present at the river divided the men into two groups. Two Syrians were working with the Greek police, wearing civilian clothes and balaclavas. The respondent heard these two Syrians talking to a Syrian family in Arabic. Subsequently, these Syrians put 12 people at a time into a small boat in the river and took them across to Turkey.
They arrived in Turkey cold and tired. The respondent and the 11 other people stayed hiding in the forest on the Turkish side of the Evros river, waiting for the respondents’ friends to be pushed back as well. They were close to a Turkish police station. Eventually the others left, but the respondent waited for his friends. As the rest of the group left, they were caught by the Turkish military. The soldiers asked them where the rest of the group was and they pointed out their hiding place. The Turkish military told the group “you will not go to Istanbul, we will send you back to Greece”.
The soldiers made them walk to another point of the Evros river and told them to cross it – without a boat. The respondent and his friends told the Turkish soldiers that they could not cross there, but the soldiers said “do not worry, the water is not deep here, you can cross”. They were forced to cross back to Greece swimming and waited at the edge of the river till morning, and then crossed back to the Turkish side when there was no military or police there.
“Why do they treat us with racism and discrimination when they find out we are Moroccan or Algerian and not other nationalities? They’ve destroyed me, they’ve destroyed us. Why do they treat us like this?” the respondent stated.