“The women was searched by a male officer who touched all her body looking for hidden phone or money. As she started crying he screamed at her and pushed her after he was done searching her. ”

Injuries sustained by the respondent during the pushback
  • Date and time: October 21, 2021 00:00
  • Location: Malko Tarnovo (BG) to Sükrüpasa (TR)
  • Coordinates: 41.9797938, 27.5250475
  • Pushback from: Bulgaria
  • Pushback to: Turkey
  • Demographics: 13 person(s), age: 16 - 55 years old , from: Syria
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, pushing people to the ground, exposure to air condition and extreme temperature during car ride, insulting, sexual assault, forcing to undress, theft of personal belongings, reckless driving
  • Police involved: 8 officers all dressed in green pants and sacramento jackets and armed with guns; 5 officers, 1x truck
  • 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 26-year-old Syrian man, had already experienced 4 pushbacks, his most recent from Malko Tarnovo, Bulgaria, to Sükrüpasa, Turkey. 

On the 21st of October at 10 pm, the respondent met a smuggler who brought a van to take him to a place in the forest. From that point, the group of 13 people walked for 2 hours. They were all Syrian and between 16 – 55 years, one minor and one woman among them. The minor was without his parents, as they are in Sanliurfa

The respondent just followed the smuggler, he did not know where he had been taken. They crossed a dried-out river while walking and then another small river before arriving at the fence. Once arriving at the site, the smuggler told the group to wait until he cut the fence to let them pass. That was at 3 am and they waited for 30 min. After cutting the fence and letting the people pass, the smuggler walked back. 

At about 3.30 am everybody had passed and they started running on an unpaved road. They were afraid of patrolling control and didn’t want to be seen. All got to the same point to hide and started walking. In Bulgarian territory they walked for 4 – 6 km for about 3 hours of walking. One of the guys in the group was using maps and the others were following. In the forest, after crossing a small mountain, the group saw two car lights from the left and right and tried to hide. But the officers were lightening their torches, started looking and got close to the hidden spot. They surrounded the group from every side. 

Nobody moved, they just stayed where they were, raised their hands to the air and said “We are Syrian” and “Camp”. The officers lit up their faces with the torches and took pictures with their phones. 

In total, 8 officers were at the site, all dressed in green pants and sacramento jackets and armed with guns which looked like the pictures below: 

image 1: Border police jackets
image 2: Bulgarian border police insignia
Image 3: Uzi

These officers asked the group to stand up and screamed at them to make them afraid. In lines they had to walk to 2 green jeeps, one was an older model. Something was written in white on the sides in Bulgarian and police written on the front. 

All of the group were asked in English to pull down their bags, take off all their clothes, and were told that if anyone was hiding money, this person would be beaten up. The officers among themselves spoke Bulgarian. The only woman in the group was not forced to undress, the minor instead was.

The woman was searched by a male officer who touched her body looking for hidden phones or money. As she started crying he screamed at her and pushed her after he was done searching her. 

Meanwhile, the others waited completely naked for 30 minutes while their clothing was being searched. The officers took the travelers’ phones, money, and bags with the supplies in it and shoes. Only pants and shirts were returned. From the woman, they took the phone and shoes. 

The officers slapped the respondent a few times to make him move faster when they loaded them in the trunk which was 2 by 2 meters in size. 

All the 13 people were loaded in the trunk so nobody could breathe properly. Also, they kept colliding against each other. The door of the trunk wasn’t able to close because people were sitting in front of it (in lack of space). One officer came and hit the people in front of the door to make space and close the door. 

As the windows were closed, the respondent couldn’t see outside. They arrived at a push-back point next to the fence. The drive took about 15 min on an unpaved road. The driving was reckless and fast so the respondent kept colliding with the others and hitting their heads against each others. That was around 4 – 5 am. 

5 officers were controlling the area and asked the respondent to get out of the truck. They kicked everybody, one officer was holding a plastic baton with which he hit everybody, even the minors and women. One officer was opening the door in the fence, the other one was beating the group and one was just standing next to the group. All this process took about 20 minutes, everybody was slapped and forced to go back through that door to Turkey. Around the door was a barbed fence, surrounded from all sides with forest. 

The group followed an unpaved road for 3 hours until they arrived to a small village at 6 am, called Sükrüpasa (TR). Another 3 hours they waited until 2 taxis arrived which took 1000 TL from each of the 13 people to take them to Edirne for 2 hours. 

No food or water nor medical care for an old man was provided throughout the whole time. The intention to ask for asylum was expressed but the reaction was just “Shut up” and screaming. 

 

Injuries sustained by the respondent during pushback. Injuries were inflicted by Bulgarian authorities
Further injuries sustained by pushback group members